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DHAKA – A government-led initiative in Bangladesh has been launched to ensure 90 per cent of all garment workers in the country will be paid digitally by 2021. The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) is leading the drive to move workers to a cashless payment system, which now includes 1.5 million workers under it, with another 2.6 million set to join. At a digital wage summit in Bangladesh, BGMEA president Rubana Huq said: “We want to go for cashless transaction to pay wages to workers to upgrade them to next level.” H&M Group is also supporting this drive and has said all of its supplier factories will have digital payment systems by 2020.

The Access to Information (a2i) Programme of ICT Division, supported by Cabinet Division and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and Better Than Cash Alliance (BTCA) of United Nations Capital Development Fund jointly organised the summit.

The summit discussed issues faced in making cash payments for both the garment employees and manufacturers, and how digital payments are beneficial for both parties, in terms of security, efficiency, empowerment and independence.

When payrolls got digitalised, garment factories recorded a 53 per cent savings in staff time for their administration and finance teams. Wage digitalisation also improved the likelihood of women to participate in household decisions related to spending and savings by 15 per cent, according to Bangladesh media reports.

Huq said BGMEA would teach workers about the operation of digital wage system to empower them.

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