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Inside bKash’s Big Move To Make Remittance Transfer Into Your Mobile Phones A Reality

Yesterday, bKash, the second largest mobile-money giant in the world, made a big announcement: bKash account holders can now receive international remittance directly on their mobile phones. The breakthrough, result of a collaboration between MasterCard, Western Union and bKash, will immediately benefit 22 million bKash account holders in Bangladesh.

According to World Bank data, Bangladesh is the eighth largest receiver of international remittances in the world. While the new service will improve the ease and convenience with which millions of people receive money from their loved ones abroad, it is also a huge business growth opportunity for bKash.

Unprecedented growth of mobile banking

Mobile banking has seen unprecedented growth in recent years. According to the Bangladesh Bank data, the industry saw BDT 157,773.31 crore in transactions through mobile phones in 2015 which was 53% up from the previous year. There are about 3.19 crore mobile banking accounts of which only 1.25 crore are active users and this figure will increase in the coming days.

Five years after Bangladesh Bank started handing out mobile-money licenses, 28 banks have approval for offering mobile financial service. 20 launched operations so far. About 15% of total populations use mobile banking service.

bKash’s incredible scale

While the supportive regulatory framework of Bangladesh Bank that allows over-the-counter mobile money transactions has played a significant role in advancing mobile-money service in Bangladesh, bKash has played huge role in taking it mainstream. Because of its continuous push, you can now use your mobile phones like a bank account—depositing, withdrawing and transferring money with your handset.

Moreover, you can also pay utility bills and pay for goods and services, though in a limited way. For eCommerce in Bangladesh, bKash has become the second biggest payment process in recent years. Consequently, despite the huge competition, bKash continues to dominate the space.

Launched in 2011, bKash has more than 22 million users and it is venturing into other spaces fast. Over the past couple of years, bKash has shown incredible focus and service innovativeness. It has partnered with shops, companies, organizations to roll out new uses of its service and it has succeeded.

While bKash originally started to serve unbanked population of the country, which it has done wonderfully in past couple of years, the startup has remained vigilant for other opportunities and increasingly becoming an alternative financial service provider. It has issued a networking effect that no one imagined possible and now tapping into that to scale its business.

When you have the incredible scale like bKash, you can try many things. The scale also gives you certain amount of power as a company. bKash’s remittance move will give the company huge growth boost while opening up the new opportunities to explore in coming years.

bKash remittance

Remittance through bKash: How it works

Brac Bank exchange houses: The service is now available in UAE and UK. NRBs from these countries can send international remittance through bKash from BRAC Bank designated exchange houses. The service is yet to launch in other countries but remitters from other countries will also be able to avail this facility soon.

Sending money from overseas is simple. The sender just needs to select bKash as the mode of transfer; the receiver will receive the fund directly in the bKash Account on his/her mobile phone. Standard bKash charges will be applicable in Bangladesh.

Western Union: People around the world can also use Western Union’s trusted global network for sending cross-border remittances that can be received by bKash customers directly onto their mobile phones or collected from a Western Union® Agent location.

By using the new service, bKash’s registered customers can receive remittances from every Western Union channel directly into their bKash account, 24 hours a day.

The process is simple to use; customers simply enter the Western Union money transfer control number (MTCN), amount and bKash PIN and the request will be processed using MasterCard’s secure payment technology and funds credited to the bKash account.

The service accepts single transaction remittances of up to BDT 35,000 (approximately US$500); up to BDT 115,000 (approximately USD $1,500) over five transactions per customer per day; and combined monthly remittances of up to BDT 150,000 (approximately US$1,900) and a maximum of 20 transactions a month.

Once the transfer is completed, the funds can be accessed instantly. Customers can then either cash out the money via bKash agent locations across the country, or can utilize the account balance to make person to person fund transfers, top-up mobile airtime, pay bills and shop in-store. They can also store the money in their bKash accounts and earn interest on savings.

MasterCard plays a critical role in this relationship by providing the real-time, back-end solution via its innovative MasterCard Send Platform, which, by connecting bKash, BRAC Bank and Western Union, helps to further enhance the efficiency and reliability of the end-to-end remittance process.

Mohammad Ruhul Kader is a Dhaka-based entrepreneur and writer. He founded Future Startup, a digital publication covering the startup and technology scene in Dhaka with an ambition to transform Bangladesh through entrepreneurship and innovation. He writes about internet business, strategy, technology, and society. He is the author of Rethinking Failure. His writings have been published in almost all major national dailies in Bangladesh including DT, FE, etc. Prior to FS, he worked for a local conglomerate where he helped start a social enterprise. Ruhul is a 2022 winner of Emergent Ventures, a fellowship and grant program from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. He can be reached at ruhul@futurestartup.com

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