No bank? No phone? No problem. bKash lets Bangladeshis access banking services.
(Posted July 2023) Can you imagine having to spend an entire day each month to pay a utility bill? That’s the reality that many rural Bangladeshis faced in a recent past. They had to travel on bad (and sometimes-flooded) roads to get to a city with a bank. Once there, they had to line up, pay, before finally making the arduous trip back home. It’s hard to get ahead in life when you waste huge chunks of your precious time this way.
Jewel Mia, a bKash agent, delivery her old-age allowance to a woman in his village
That was before bKash came along. bKash is a Bangladesh-based provider of financial services. It enables Bangladeshis to pay their bills, send and receive money domestically or internationally, and even get loans. The services are smartphone-based, which could be a hurdle in a country where many cannot afford such devices. bKash skirted that issue by appointing a nation-wide network of trusted locals who deliver financial services to anyone, whether the customers have a phone or not.
"Financial inclusion and inclusive services have been part of bKash's DNA since its inception in 2011,” Kamal Quadir, Founder and CEO of bKash, said at an event in Shanghai recently. “At the advent of the fourth industrial revolution, we are working tirelessly towards a digital financial ecosystem and becoming a Smart Nation.”
In 2011, under the direction of Bangladesh Bank, the country's central bank, the government issued 28 mobile financial services licenses to operators and qualified banks. One was awarded to bKash – a subsidiary of BRAC Bank. It’s been a runaway success. Today, the company is the largest financial providers in the country, providing mobile financial services to 68 million people, or just about every family in Bangladesh. The word “bKash” has even become a verb. People now say “bKash koro (me)” instead of “send me money.” Catering to people’s daily transactional needs, it is empowering Bangladeshis to fulfill their dreams as well as taking the country forward.
Huawei powers bKash's services with its cutting-edge digital finance solutions. “Since 2017, Huawei has been working closely with bKash in digitalizing its mobile financial services with its leading Mobile Money platform,” says Pan Junfeng, President of Huawei South Asia Region and CEO of Huawei Bangladesh. “The platform offers services such as e-wallet and Nano-loan, bringing financial inclusion and innovation to local communities.”
When roads are washed away, going to the bank in person is a major undertaking
Huawei’s partnership with bKash sets it in a sterling company of individuals and organizations. The firms is financially backed by BRAC Bank, US based Money in Motion LLC, International Finance Corporation (a subsidiary of the World Bank), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Ant Group, and SoftBank Vision Fund.
For Huawei, the success of bKash in providing financial services represents a natural progression in 25 years since 1998 of dedicated efforts to develop Bangladesh’s full economic potential. In the early 2000s, few people had a mobile phone in Bangladesh, largely because coverage was poor to inexistent outside the main cities. In 2006, Huawei took on a contract that involved networking remote mountain villages and succeeded in meeting the tough delivery schedule. Today, owing to comprehensive wireless coverage, the majority of Bangladesh households own a mobile phone.
Check out the transformational impact that bKash and wireless coverage are having on Bangladesh in the video below.