The central bank has asked all the scheduled banks to provide loans and credit card facilities to the IT freelancers having virtual identity (ID) cards, officials said.
Under the new initiative, the banks will have to comply with all banking rules and regulations properly, according to a notification issued by the Bangladesh Bank (BB) on Sunday.
“We’ve advised the banks to extend their financial support to virtual ID cardholder freelancers to help them explore the potential freelancing sector of Bangladesh,” Abu Farah Md. Naser, executive director of the BB, told the FE.
He also informed that the government has already decided to issue electronic/virtual identity cards to the freelancers.
Appreciating the move, Mahfuzur Rahman, General Secretary of Bangladesh Freelancers Development Society (BFDS), said it will help explore the country’s freelancing sector. “We want to develop freelancing as a mainstream profession in Bangladesh,” Mr. Rahman said while replying to a query.
Currently, there are some 650,000 people directly or indirectly involved in freelancing in Bangladesh, who earn around US$ 300 million annually, according to the BFDS general secretary.
The workforce, mainly consisting of young people, is engaged in various IT-related jobs including programming, designing, tax preparation, and search engine optimization, among others.
Earlier at a meeting on November 25, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina announced an initiative for issuing virtual ID cards for the freelancers. She also virtually launched the website and android mobile app of Freelancers.gov.bd.
Currently, different agencies including the ICT Division of the Information Ministry, Bangladesh Computer Council and BFDS are now working on issuing such ID cards to the freelancers.
Besides, the central bank allowed the banks on May 02, 2017 to issue ‘Freelancer Card’ having dual currency units with features of being prepaid from abroad to facilitate development of the ICT (information and communication technology) sector.