bKash enhances financial inclusion in Bangladesh
Bangladesh has made great progress in raising living standards and reducing poverty. In recent years, financial inclusion—the percentage of people with access to basic financial services—has risen to 50%.
Still, in a country with 169 million people, that’s nearly 85 million without bank accounts.
Bangladesh is one of the world’s most densely populated countries. More than 70 percent of citizens live in rural areas, where mainstream banks don’t provide services. The country’s unbanked population is, for the most part, unable to obtain credit, make digital payments or deposits, or start a savings account.
Making life easier
With no access to formal banking services, people struggle with day-to-day finances like sending money to other accounts, paying bills on time, or carrying cash safely. By integrating banking and telecom services, bKash makes it possible for anyone with a feature phone to access its main services, which include deposits, withdrawals, transfers, and payments.
Raju works in the capital, Dhaka, and supports his family, who live in the countryside. In the past, it was hard for him to send money back to his village, but now he can securely send money to his wife’s account on his phone using bKash. She can then pick up the cash straight away from a nearby bKash agent.
Shudeb Kumar Ghosh runs a family dairy business. Financial transactions were a lot of hassle, and sometimes he had to stop production to collect money from buyers. bKash lets him receive payments for goods within a few hours on his phone.
A team effort
bKash has increased its collaboration with banks and international remittance companies, signing cooperation agreements with financial entities including Sonali Bank, Bangladesh's largest state-owned commercial bank. It is also working with 13 other banks, using their nationwide networks to provide receipts, payments, and other services to bKash distributors.
bKash is partnering with others to build up a payments ecosystem. Merchants on its network provide payment services for users in shops, medical facilities, and universities. By sharing benefits with its distributors, operators, and other partners, bKash has stimulated significant growth for the service.
A trusted brand
bKash's bright pink signage is eye-catching and easily identifiable amid the lush green backdrop of Bangladesh's rural areas. The company's advertising billboards also often occupy prominent locations in towns and cities and promote the value of the service through customer stories. In Bangladesh, everyone knows bKash, whether or not they’ve used its service.
bKash frequently teams up with merchants to run promotional campaigns, especially during the holidays. Its real-time cash back service uses Huawei's Mobile Money platform, which gives users a slight rebate when using bKash to pay selected merchants.
Ultimately, bKash is not content to remain a money transfer tool but wants to turn the brand into a lifestyle product. Its next step is to focus on developing a user-oriented app and providing financial services that connect to banks. As bKash's platform-side strategic partner, Huawei will assist the company to achieve this vision.
bKash’s CEO, Kamal Quadir, believes the Huawei solution is well designed, helping bKash tailor its services to the needs of different customers.
“A customer may say, 'I want to use this platform to deposit money in my bank account, buy insurance, or something else,” says Quadir. “That's the main reason we’re working with Huawei."
bKash's vision for the future is to provide financial services for low-income areas not covered by conventional services and thus cover more people in Bangladesh. It’s now a trusted brand whose success comes down to easily accessible, secure banking services.
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