Executive Directors (EDs) of World Bank Group (WBG) have expressed their satisfaction over the ongoing process of wage digitization in apparel sector of Bangladesh and its impact on women empowerment. Today, the Executive Directors visited the Newage Group’s Ashulia RMG factory to observe how the bKash payroll digitization is positively impacting RMG workers’ life as well as increasing their productivity.
The Executive Directors explored existing facilities for workers, bKash awareness session in RMG factories on secure utilization of mobile wallet and also interacted with the workers. There was an open dialogue where the EDs exchanged their views with the high officials of bKash and Newage Group.
The objectives of Executives Directors’ visit were to learn about the impact of WBG activities in Bangladesh, understand the challenges of a lower middle-income country that has maintained solid economic growth over the years and exchange opinions with authorities, beneficiaries, and other stakeholders on partnerships with the WBG. However, both bKash and Newage Group are in partnership with IFC which is a member of the World Bank Group.
Kamal Quadir, CEO of bKash, threw light on the overall payment system in Bangladesh and explained how wage digitization is taking place by bKash. He said, “There is a gender gap in access to financial services in Bangladesh and services like bKash are making an impact in narrowing such gap. Given the economic significance of the ready-made garment sector, which is dominated by female workers, digitizing wage payments through MFS can have a significant impact on women’s financial inclusion.”
Patrizio Pagano, ED of WBG said, “We have seen massive changes in the RMG sector of Bangladesh. Previously, factories used to pay through cash or banks which was troublesome and time consuming. The wage digitization is benefitting both the workers and the factory owners. Because of the largest distribution network of bKash, Bangladeshi RMG factories are becoming more dynamic with its wage digitization solution.”
Asif Ibrahim, Vice Chairman of Newage Group talked about the RMG industry in Bangladesh and emphasized on wage digitization as it decreases administration cost; attracts international buyers and improves production. He thanked IFC and bKash for the consistent support in this regard.
From the factory visit, WBG EDs have seen that bKash is the most convenient option among the workers. Ease of sending money to home and getting salary in bKash have made their life easier. Once workers get salary in their bKash account, they use it for transferring money to their friends and families, recharging mobile phones, paying utility bills, purchasing products at shops and so on.
Currently, 350,000 garments workers of 280 RMG factories are getting their salary through bKash. This wage digitization plays a very significant role in women empowerment as the women workers are now in more control of their wages than before. They get salary in their mobile wallet, spend according to their choice and keep savings for emergency.
Launched in 2011, bKash, a joint venture of BRAC Bank, US based Money in Motion, International Finance Corporation, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Ant Financial, operates as a payment service provider offering broad range of digital financial services under the regulation of Bangladesh Bank.