Mobile Money has been making its way through Bangladesh. bKash Limited company is a subsidiary of BRAC Bank (a private commercial bank in Bangladesh) that has helped launch a new service that allows Bangladeshis to transfer money through their mobile phones. According to a report in The Economist, the relatively new expansion of mobile money is due to bKash’s widespread partners that allow them to work with multiple networks. This provides many Bangladeshis living in rural areas access to this mobile money service through almost any mobile network provider. The mobile money enables users to transfer money through “digital cash”. Now with over 2.2 million users in Bangladesh, the mobile money seems to be a success.
bKash has worked to make mobile money available, especially in rural areas in Bangladesh, where financial services may be difficult to access. According to bKash’s company profile, 70% of Bangladesh’s population lives in rural areas and less than 15% of the entire population is connected to a banking system. On the other hand, bKash reports that approximately 50% of the population has mobile devices, which makes mobile money a practical way for Bangladeshis to have access to their finances. In The Economist, the chief executive of bKash, Kamal Quadir, explains that mobile money is like “an ATM, but a more reliable one in a country where electricity can drop in and out”. It is a new way to make money more easily available in rural areas where quick access to finances may be needed to cover expenses for urgent and potentially crucial matters.
It is interesting that higher access to phones has benefited the financial capabilities of Bangladeshis. Many media avenues have reported on the use of mobile money, from The Daily Star (Bangladesh), Asia Today, to reports from the World Bank and The Economist. The media’s attention on this matter can perhaps help spread this mobile money system to other countries with branch banking limitations in rural areas, and provide even more people with a reliable method to access their finances. In fact, mobile money started in Kenya before spreading to Bangladesh and India. Who will be next?