South Asia Micro-Savings Initiative

Savings at scale: over 660,000 new accounts opened through mobile payment platforms, branchless banking, and transformation strategies


2009 to 2013


The SAMI project, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, worked with four partner microfinance institutions: BRAC Bank Ltd. in Bangladesh, Khushhali Bank (KBL) in Pakistan, Krishna Bhima Samruddhi (KBS) Local Area Bank in India, and the National Rural Support Programme (NRSP) Microfinance Bank in Pakistan. They are all leading microfinance service providers in their home markets and at the beginning of the project, were predominately credit-oriented financial services providers.


All four institutions sought to expand from their credit-led models and deliver savings products to low-income clients more profitably and on a larger scale.



Launch of bKash, including the establishment of 50,000+ agent network and 5 million+ clients within two years.

Shift in KBS Local Area Bank’s strategic focus from a credit-led to a deposit-centric bank, including opening over 270,000 new low-income savings accounts.

Design and roll-out of new savings products to over 100 Khushhali Bank branches, raising $11.5 million in short-term capital through over 300,000 new savings accounts.

Transformation of NRSP into a regulated microfinance bank and development of a functional liability sales structure, including installation of a new core banking system and design of deposit products, policies, and procedures.


Savings services at scale, including over 660,000 new savings accounts in Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan.

Expanded access to safe, secure, affordable and reliable payment and remittance services expanded to 5 million households in Bangladesh.

Greater access by women and vulnerable populations using doorstep banking and mobile banking.


BRAC Bank Ltd: Conducted market research; recommended a market entry strategy; and developed a business plan, financial model, and capital proposal for bKash Ltd., a mobile money platform created as an affiliate of BRAC Bank.

KBS Local Area Bank: Conducted an assessment of the liabilities department; engaged in field monitoring to mitigate impact of 2010 Andhra Pradesh crisis; developed policies and procedures for doorstep banking; and supported the installation of a new core banking system.

Khushhali Bank: Conducted market research; procured and integrated a new IT/MIS system; revamped KBL’s liability sales structure and savings processes; designed and launched three new savings products; and designed branch-based and branchless banking strategies for savings services.

NRSP Microfinance Bank: Conducted an analysis of market demand; designed and piloted new products; developed IT/MIS specifications, managed the procurement of IT/MIS services and oversaw technology integration; and implemented product training and roll-out across the branch network.


Transforming a credit-led institution into an institution with balanced asset and liability products requires a major cultural shift, involving fundamental changes to management strategy, human resources, operational and risk management systems, and regulatory compliance capabilities. Mobile and branchless technology integration also requires significant investment in sophisticated core banking systems, as well as training and investment in systems mainstreaming. Finally, we learned that savings are not a successful “lead” product for mobile money deployments; rather, products such as payment services, remittances, and overdraft credit services may lead into savings as a value-added “bundling” product.