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 53%.
Still, in a country with 169 million people, that’s nearly 80 million who are effectively excluded from the banking system.
One solution is offered by bKash, simple, affordable mobile payment service. More than 12 years after its launch, bKash has accumulated more than 73 million verified users.
Bangladesh is one of the world’s most densely populated countries. More than 70 percent of citizens live in rural areas, where mainstream banking service is scarce. The country’s unbanked population is, for the most part, unable to obtain credit, make digital payments or deposits, or start a savings account.
With limited access to formal banking services, many people struggle with day-to-day finances like sending money to other accounts, paying bills on time, or carrying cash safely. By integrating banking services with telecom network connectivity, bKash makes it possible for anyone with a smartphone or even a basic feature phone to access its main services, which include deposits, withdrawals, transfers, and payments. Today in Bangladesh, bKash has become a verb. People simply say “bKash me the money.”
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 bKash account using his phone. She can then cash out the money straight away from a nearby bKash agent. bKash has a network of 330,000 agents across the country.
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 quickly on his phone.
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 44 other commercial banks, using their nationwide networks to provide receipts, payments, and other services to bKash customers. bKash is currently working with about 86 international money transfer organizations (MTOs) to bring in remittances from Bangladeshi nationals residing in 90 countries. These remittances are efficiently settled in 22 local commercial banks, making bKash a crucial channel for the inflow of vital remittance from abroad.
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 digital payment services.
bKash's magenta signage is eye-catching and easily identifiable amid the lush green backdrop of Bangladesh's landscape. 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. bKash now around 600,000 merchant points across the country. 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 evolving from a money transfer tool into a lifestyle platform. To become a user-oriented platform, bKash relaunched its app in 2018 to provide inclusive financial services that are connected to the traditional financial system. As bKash's platform-side strategic partner, Huawei will help the company achieve this vision.
bKash’s CEO, Kamal Quadir, said, “Financial inclusion and inclusive services have been part of bKash’s DNA since its inception in 2011. At the advent of the fourth industrial revolution, we are working tirelessly towards a digital financial ecosystem and becoming a Smart Nation. The joint effort of bKash and Huawei aims at driving financial inclusion and eliminating poverty for SDGs with innovative solutions.”
bKash's vision for the future is to provide financial services to all specially in low-income areas which are 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, convenient, and secure financial services.
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