bKash mobile money is also the story of Bangladesh, a war-torn country formed in 1971 after the Bangladesh Liberation War.
But neither the horrors of that war–nor the poverty that enveloped the country since–has stopped the growth of mobile currency exchange. In fact, bKash is now the second largest mobile money company in the world by number of accounts.
A subsidiary of BRAC Bank, bKash emerged in 2010 from funding through the bank and Money in Motion, an American company. International Finance Corporation (IFC) became an equity partner in 2013, followed in 2014 by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Kamal Quadir is bKash’ CEO and my podcast guest on MobileBeyond.
It was a “perfect storm” for bKash since all parties to its formation have a strong interest in providing financial services to the 160 million people in Bangladesh.
Kamal Quadir describes the marriage of the financial parties as a coming together of “like-minded entrepreneurs.” Add to that Bangladesh’ 98% mobile availability and 110 million SIMS.
bKash Mobile Money Services’ Expansive Growth
Launching operations in mid-2011, the company began marketing its services through agents roaming rural and non-rural areas of the country. Now over 95,000 agents sell bKash mobile money services, including domestic remittance, airtime top off and merchant payments. Sending money home, however, is most popular.
Despite 21 other bank competitors which offer similar wallet services, bKash dominates with 11.5 million customers after introducing its products only three years ago. 18-24 year olds and women textile workers are the biggest fans of the mobile service.
Here is a short video describing the people of Bangladesh and bKash mobile money.
When I asked him about the future, he quickly pointed out the 148 million potential customers. He believes that bKash is a tool that addresses the need for people to “leap-frog into financial inclusiveness.”
Listen to a podcast interview with a man who feels deeply about his company’s mission to raise the people of Bangladesh out of poverty through financial inclusion.
For further information:
This is the seventh in a series of interviews and articles about financial inclusion of people using mobile devices to gain access to financial services.
These and other financial inclusion pioneers will be featured in Carol Realini’s forthcoming book “Financial Inclusion at the Bottom of the Pyramid.” See her Facebook page for further information.
Other podcasts and posts in the series
An update to this post about Bangladesh, mobile money and bKash is available now.