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bKash

Accelerating bank-led mobile financial services at scale: 5 million customers and 50,000 agents within 2 years


YEARS

2009-2013

CLIENT DESCRIPTION

bKash, a joint venture between BRAC Bank and Money in Motion, is the leading mobile money platform in Bangladesh and incorporates as part of its business strategy strong financial inclusion objectives to deliver demand-driven services to Bangladeshi households, entrepreneurs and individuals many of whom have been excluded from the formal banking system.

CLIENT'S OBJECTIVE

Establish a bank-led mobile banking system in Bangladesh to become a leading platform to meet the financial needs of individuals, households and entrepreneurs, with a particular focus on low-income households.

Results

BUSINESS RESULTS

bKash now has over 5 million new mobile financial services accounts, through which low-income Bangladeshis are conducting more than 400,000 transactions per day through more than 50,000 financial service agents.

SOCIAL & ENVIRONMENTAL OUTCOMES:

Low-income and rural Bangladeshis now have access to a secure and affordable place to address their financial needs and to keep money safe. They can conduct a variety of transactions, including withdrawals, at any time from any bKash agent, from convenient locations that are open at convenient times.

Workers who have migrated to cities can send money home instantly – the high penetration of agents in rural locations nationwide means that family members have easy access to their funds.

Activities

Raised a $10 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to support implementation and technical assistance.

Fielded and managed external consultants in supporting bKash’s market research, financial modeling and business and capital planning, agent network setup and rapid rollout, and the implementation of a risk management program.

Undertook social impact studies amongst rural populations.

Ensured donor milestones and reporting requirements were met.

LEARNINGS

One key challenge of launching a mobile financial service is balancing agent rollout with customer uptake. Our engagement enabled focused, rapid agent rollout (0 to 5000 within a year), focusing initially on locations that market research had identified as domestic remittance corridors. From the beginning, we anticipated the importance of “knowing your agent” and worked with bKash to capture GPS coordinates and a large number of agent demographic indicators to enable informed monitoring and evaluation as the network grew. Another key challenge is that successful mobile money transactions are vulnerable to fraud, both at the customer and agent level; the implementation of a comprehensive risk management program enabled the whole company to plan and mitigate for anticipated risks.