Over the past years, Bangladesh has experienced unprecedented growth in mobile phone penetration. According to BTRC, the country has over 117 million mobile phone subscribers and growing. Bangladesh is a true mobile-first nation, according to data from StatCounter GlobalStats, in February 2017, more than 73% of internet users came through mobile whereas the number was only 25% for desktop. Although feature-phone dominates the overall usage, the country has also been seeing an extraordinary smartphone growth, thanks to cheap Chinese handset.
This has implications not only for tech but also for many other industries. People spend an usually high amount of time with their handheld devices. Moreover, mobile allows users to do things on the go. As a result, mobile is changing how we communicate, consume, shop and transact. In the coming years, it will change many other aspects of our daily life.
Understanding mobile and its implications on our life and living is one of our obsessions at FS. Over the past years, we have closely followed the growth of MFS, smartphone, mobile internet, digital health services, various on-demand services and more. And we plan to do even more in the coming years. Below we have put together a list of our mobile coverage to help you navigate how mobile is changing the way we communicate, consume, transact and more importantly live.
1. Mobile Internet
In February 2017, more than 73% of internet users came through mobile, 25% used desktops and tablet users accounted for under 1%.
With the rapid growth of smartphone penetration, the number of people using internet through their handheld devices is on the rise resulting in a sharp growth in data revenue for the operators. Top three mobile operators have seen a steady growth in data revenue since the launch of 3G in 2013[su_divider top="no" divider_color="#adacab" link_color="#edde29" size="1"][/su_divider]
2. Handset market
Handset importers of the country are eyeing a 25% growth in total sales of handsets of all kinds in 2017.
The mobile handset market is one of the fastest growing markets in Bangladesh. One important distinction though is, back in 2012, it was basic phones that came in bulk and today it is smartphones.
Symphony and Samsung continue to rule the handset market in Bangladesh, in both feature phone and smartphone segments. A recent report released by Bangladesh Mobile Phone Importers Association (BMPIA) showed the data.
According to Bangladesh Mobile Phone Importers’ Association (BMPIA), smartphones import saw a staggering 57.44% rise in the first half, January to June, of 2016 compared to the same period last year. Around 35.71 lakh pieces of smartphones were imported during this period.
Smartphones Are Pretty Cheap, Yet Unaffordable For Most Average Bangladeshi
The affordable pricing of Chinese manufactured phones has contributed largely to this growth. At $123, the average retail price of a smartphone in Bangladesh is the lowest among 17 developing markets analysed by Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends Report for 2016.
Bangladesh has registered significant growth in adoption of Mobile Banking. This sector posted an average 60%+ growth in all major metric, recent data released by Bangladesh Bank shows.
Bangladesh accounts for more than 8% of total mobile money accounts globally. The service has grown rapidly, with more than 12 companies offering mobile money services on the market. Competition in the space has heightened in the recent years. Multiple players are now gradually taking into bKash’s market share.
The first mobile money service, bKash, launched in the country in 2011. It did not take much time to grow. Today, Bangladesh accounts for more than 8% of total mobile money accounts globally. The service has grown rapidly, with more than 12 companies offering mobile money services on the market. We have also seen a rise in standalone mobile wallet services launched in collaboration with mobile money services like Pay 365, Payza and couple more.[su_divider top="no" divider_color="#adacab" link_color="#edde29" size="1"][/su_divider]
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.[su_divider top="no" divider_color="#adacab" link_color="#edde29" size="1"][/su_divider]
5. Messaging and advertising
An increasing number of global technology players are showing interest in Bangladesh. Infobip, a London-based company that provides enterprise mobile messaging services in 44 countries opened its office in Dhaka and launched operations in partnership with Wintel Limited, a local mobile content providing company.
G&R, largely a PC age company, suddenly saw a soaring mobile user growth and mobile leading the way to more eyeballs. According to data from Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission, the number of internet users almost doubled in the last two years; it shot up from 30.48 million in 2013 to 58.31 million in February 2016. Of the 58 million active internet subscribers, nearly 96% are on mobile and more than 10 million use smartphones.
G&R also confirmed that it’s mobile inventory surpassed its desktop inventory last year.
6. Health, agriculture, commerce and data
Started in 2015, Telenor Health uses mobile technology to deliver a host of health services in emerging markets. Launched in Bangladesh, its flagship product Tonic now boasts 3 million subscribers and growing.
Robi Axiata Limited, the second largest mobile operator in the country, has partnered with Grameen Intel Social Business Ltd (GISB) to cooperate with each other on various Information Technology solutions using telecom network to connect the unconnected population including and especially farmers.
Mobile is changing travel bookings globally. And smartphones dominated several subcategories in mobile bookings. According to a report by Criteo, smartphones dominated hotel and airline bookings globally while package bookings were largely done by Tablets.
An increasing number of consumers in Asia Pacific are embracing new mobile technologies for online shopping, according to a survey conducted by MasterCard on mobile shopping trend in Asia Pacific.
Field Buzz is a software system that uses smartphones to help organizations manage their remote or dispersed operations. Field Buzz is flexible enough to be used for most typical “field worker” activities such as registering customers or beneficiaries, tracking which products or services have been delivered where and to whom, tracking payments and credits, conducting surveys and evaluations/inspections, etc. We help customize the system for each organization’s specific needs.[su_divider top="no" divider_color="#adacab" link_color="#edde29" size="1"][/su_divider]
7. Transportation and mobility
Mobility is a big problem in Dhaka, as we wrote in a recent report. It is hard to get from one place to another and public transportation system is showing little sign of improvement.
Hence, we are seeing an influx in the number of mobility and on-demand transportation services in Dhaka. We have over 9 startups operating in the space.