Bangladesh's first complete mobile financial service provider, bKash Limited, a BRAC Bank subsidiary, launched its operation today, July 21, 2011. Bangladesh Bank Governor Dr. Atiur Rahman inaugurated the service in Dhaka. The Governor marked the occasion as a milestone event not only for the advancement of Bangladesh but also to celebrate a true partnership between banking and telecom industries. bKash is designed to provide financial services via mobile phones to both the unbanked and the banked people of Bangladesh. The overall bKash value proposition is simple: a safe, convenient place to store money; a safe, easy way to make payments and money transfers.
The bKash mobile wallet, a VISA technology platform which is fully encrypted to ensure most secure transactions, will be the customer account into which money can be deposited and out of which money can be withdrawn or used for various services. Customers will be able to receive electronic money into their bKash accounts through salary, loan, domestic remittance, and other disbursements and eventually will cash out the electronic money at any of the hundreds of cash out agents which bKash assigns.
In February 2011, mobile operator Robi Axiata Limited signed a partnership agreement with bKash to provide access to its services for Robi subscribers and extend the distribution of the service. bKash\s other distribution partner is BRAC which provides a local presence to offer the bKash service at the vicinity of the beneficiaries. Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, Founder and Chairperson of BRAC, mentioned "bKash provides a wonderful opportunity for millions of unbanked people who owns a cell phone to have a bank account where they will be able to deposit, payout and transfer funds as they wish safely and securely.”
bKash has already selected over 500 agents and adding hundreds of new agents to its network every month. In addition, bKash has signed an MOU with Local Government Division (LGD) and Access to Information Programme (A2I) to use their 4501 Union Information & Service Centers to make financial services accessible to grass root people.
Inaugurating the service, Bangladesh Bank Governor Dr. Atiur Rahman said, "People can deposit money, withdraw money and use money in many purposes through bKash. It will increase money flow to rural part of the country. It will facilitate propensity of saving among people. I have requested concerned regulators to ensure interoperability among mobile companies to make the service available for customers of all mobile operators in the country. I hope all operators will come forward and join for their own sake. I thank and congratulate bKash, BRAC Bank and Robi for joining hands and make it possible.”
"With the backing of leading players in the field, bKash has the scale and expertise to deliver a service that the majority of Bangladeshis desperately need,” said Mr. Kamal Quadir, CEO of bKash. "We will evolve with the needs of individuals, businesses and communities,” continued Mr. Quadir.
"bKash presents a compelling business plan which capitalizes on a ripe economy to dramatically expand access to formal financial services, both as an extension of BRAC Bank and as a full- scale mobile phone-based payments switch. This will highly benefit the country as 83% of the population lives under $2 a day and access for finance can help in improving the economic situation,” said Mr. Muhammad A. (Rumee) Ali, Chairman of BRAC Bank and Chairman of bKash.
Managing Director & CEO of Robi Axiata Mr. Michael Kuehner emphasized that this is the first time a dedicated mobile financial service provider has partnered with a mobile operator so the customer expects truly transformative payment solutions and services.
"bKash will fundamentally change the way people now do transactions. Customers will not need to come to the bank, rather the bank will come to their places. Menu-driven system will be very user-friendly. Customers can do banking even through the most basic handset.”, said Mr. Syed Mahbubur Rahman, Managing Director & CEO of BRAC Bank.