12 years of bKash: an era of empowerment
Posted by bKash Limited
08 August 2023 | 15 mins read
Just an era has passed and millions of people now no longer need to worry about sending money to someone or standing in long queues to pay utility bills. Those days are gone, thanks to the Mobile Financial Services (MFS) provider bKash. 12 years back, no one thought these financial services could be available at the comfort of home. Bringing money from banks to bKash or getting an instant Digital Nano Loan of a bank via the mobile phone are now a matter of few taps. MFS has evolved into a common platform for receiving these services. As a result, the pain points people used to face earlier while availing financial services of small ticket size are now considered a thing of the distant past. Financial services have reached the fingertips of people from all strata, making life easier. The dependence on digital transactions has thereby increased manifold.
bKash is not just a means of sending money or paying bills anymore. It has become a complete financial service platform with variety of services including merchant payment, savings, remittance from abroad and beyond. It has become a part of lifestyle. bKash is now a member of every family in weal and woe. Though many other MFS providers have launched similar services, the term “bKash me” in the MFS arena is now the word of mouth that simply denotes money transfer.
In its 12 years journey, bKash has built the strongest agent network of 330,000 agents, dearly called as “Human ATMs” to take mobile financial services to the doorsteps of people at every corner of the country. These agents spread across the country have become reliable persons in their respective areas. They have not only succeeded in serving customers, but also been able to improve the living standard of their families. Other MFS operators who came later, could also leverage this trained distribution channel established by bKash to reach the people of Bangladesh.
Bangladesh Bank, the regulator of this industry, has always had the proper guidance and policy support to help MFS flourish and become customers’ trusted partner for daily transactions. Besides, bKash’s service quality, continuous investment and innovation played pivotal role in garnering the trust of more than 70 million customers.
Kamal Quadir, founder and CEO of bKash, said, “bKash has become a large family of 70 million verified customers who have been using it as a trusted and reliable partner for 12 years. Behind this achievement of financial inclusion lies the regulatory support of Bangladesh Bank and the proper guidance of the government. bKash is grateful to the entire country for the chance to be a true partner of the government in its endeavors towards implementing Digital Bangladesh. We believe, this achievement is not only bKash’s rather of the whole nation’s – every Bangladeshi has played a role to this success.”
Mozammel Hossain, a retired school teacher who has been using bKash since 2014, said, “Earlier, I had to go to the bank branch or the post office and stand in long queues to send money to my son, wait in separate lines to pay bills for water, electricity and gas. Even I had to go to the mobile recharge agent to top up my phone number several times a month. Sometimes I needed to take leaves from school for all these. Those days are gone. Now I bring money from my bank account to bKash through app. I pay all the utility bills sitting at my home, recharge my own and wife’s mobile with bKash. Sometimes I send money through bKash to my grandchildren. bKash has made my life that easy at this age.”
More than 40 percent of bKash customers are females. Subarna Mostafa, an official of a private organization, said, “bKash has now made all my daily transactions so easy that I can save my time and utilize that for other things as I like to do. Without bKash, a significant amount of time used to be wasted earlier for taking these services.”
Meanwhile, Golam Bariul Mujib Nobel, working at a private bank, said, “Almost all my daily transactions are done through bKash. For me, bKash is the better alternative of cash.”
bKash started operating as an MFS provider under the license of Bangladesh Bank on 21st July, 2011 to cater financial services through mobile phones. Its founder and chief executive officer is Kamal Quadir. Catering to people’s daily transactional needs with secured and time-saving solutions, bKash is empowering them to fulfil their dreams as well as taking the country forward for last 12 years.
During this time, bKash has brought the unbanked and underserved population into financial inclusion. Be it a remote village or a small village market or a trading center – customers have been connected to the formal financial channels mostly through bKash. Currently, 44 commercial banks are connected to the largest bank integration network of bKash. Due to the seamless money transfer between bKash and banks, customers’ experience has radically changed.
Earlier, going to a shop was the only way of recharging mobile phone numbers. In the span of an era, topping up all operators’ mobile numbers through bKash has become the most preferred way for millions of people in Bangladesh.
Mountain of hassles for paying just a small amount of utility bill was a commonplace before. Now bKash has made all kinds of utility bill payment for electricity, gas and water easier for the masses. Besides, fee payment of many government services has also become a matter of few taps.
Since 2017, bKash has successfully disbursed allowances to around 10 million beneficiaries of many government initiatives including stipend, Prime Minister’s COVID-time financial aid, farmers’ incentive allowance under the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock, maternity allowance, Ministry of Disaster Management and also the salary, allowances and incentives of workers of the export-oriented industries. bKash is working as a reliable means of payroll and allowances disbursement of the government.
bKash is not only accessible from Bangladesh, it can now be opened and used from abroad as well, as part of an initiative for making remittance sending easier for the expatriates. At this moment, expatriates from around 90 countries can send remittances through more than 80 money transfer organizations via settlement in 17 local commercial banks. In 2022, nearly BDT 40 billion worth of remittance came to Bangladesh through bKash while around BDT 30 billion worth of remittance came through bKash in only six months of 2023.
Afsana Begum, who has opened a savings scheme through bKash, said, “I used to save a little portion out of my monthly expenses. Now, I am saving money in a bank through bKash. I will get a good amount of money with interest after the maturity of my scheme. Then I will be able to spend the money for my son’s education. It will be a significant financial contribution to my family as well. I am eagerly waiting for that day.”
Like Afsana, around 1.1 million customers have availed the savings schemes through bKash app. The hassles to save small amount of money is now gone due to such service.
Not only ‘Savings’, digital nano loan can also be availed through bKash app. bKash, in association with The City Bank jointly introduced country’s first-ever Digital Nano Loan in 2021. With this innovation, eligible bKash users can avail a loan ranging from BDT 500 to 20,000 through bKash app. Since its inception, customers have availed BDT 2.75 billion of digital nano loans, while BDT 2.3 billion has already been repaid.
Machbah Uddin, Assistant Professor of Bangladesh Agriculture University, said, “From sending money to payment of shopping, purchasing train tickets, paying school fees of my children, utility bill payment to monthly savings installment – I need not worry about these at all. bKash is indeed a friend in need. In this era of bKash, digital transaction has become the biggest emblem of trust.”