December 11, 2023, 9:05 pm

A H Khan

2018-09-30 04:09:31 BdST

Experts see high potential of mobile financial services in Bangladesh

Being a populous country of over 160 million along with high smart phone penetration, Bangladesh has a very bright potential of experiencing a wide range of mobile financial services, if quality could be ensured, said industry insiders.

The unbanked and underbanked communities of Bangladesh have already come under financial inclusion through various mobile phone services due to the farsighted steps of the government and the central bank.

In this regard, one of the leading mobile financial services providers of Bangladesh, bKash Limited (“bKash”) is leading the way as it has already inked a deal with Ant Financial Services Group (“Ant Financial”), operator of Alipay, in April this year for strategic partnership to promote financial inclusion for the unbanked and underbanked communities in Bangladesh.

The partnership involves Ant Financial investing into bKash and increasing its technological capabilities, allowing it to provide greater convenience and security in mobile financial services throughout Bangladesh.

Operated by Ant Financial Services Group, Alipay is the world’s leading third-party payment platform. Launched in 2004, Alipay and its strategic partners in overseas markets currently have over 870 million users.

During a recent visit to the Alibaba Group and Ant Financial in China by a 13-member Bangladesh media delegation to have a better knowhow about the operations of Alibaba and Alipay, it was learnt that this mobile phone financial service has almost turned the entire of China ‘cashless’ by completing transactions through Alipay apps.

Talking to the reporters after the visit of Ant Financial Office at Hangzhou in China, Chief Technology Officer of bKash Mohammad Azmul Huda said, “Of course, the potential of mobile financial services in Bangladesh is very high with the increasing smart phone penetration alongside the Upgrading of mobile phone network to 4G from 3G,”

He added, “The Bangladesh Bank has also come up with efficient policy in this regard while a thirst has been created in both the public and private sectors…the mobile financial service providers like ours should have to come up with newer services step by step.”

Pointing to the bright prospect of mobile financial services in the country, Azmal said the demand of different mobile financial services is huge in such a populous country like Bangladesh. “If we could provide quality services to the people, then definitely the users would be benefitted and their hassles in day to day life will be reduced,” he added.

About their operations and future plan in Bangladesh, the bKash chief technology officer said they now have around 1.80 lakh agents across the country and out of them, around 40,000 agents got accustomed with the QR code. “We are trying to reach this wide range of mobile financial services to the grassroots people as soon as possible,” he added.

He informed that super shops like Meena Bazar, Agora and brand outlets like Aarong and Apex have also introduced their bKash mobile phone payment system.

During a visit to a kitchen market at Hangzhou in China, it was found that the common people and the vendors were completing their transactions through Alipay with ease and comfort.

About the operations of Alipay, Keith Zhai, head of corporate development, Southeast and South Asia and Peter Pan, senior business development adviser of Ant Financial for Pakistan and Bangladesh, informed that beginning its journey in 2004, the worldwide individual users of Alipay now stands at 870 million.

During a visit to the Alibaba Group headquarter, founded by Jack Ma back in 1999, Jyotika Ahuja, Director, Corporate Communications, informed that the Group has so far created some 36.81 million jobs and the target by the year 2036 is to create 100 million jobs, 2 billion customers and some 10 million profitable SMEs.

Established in 2010 by founding shareholders, BRAC Bank Limited and Money in Motion LLC, bKash is running a network of more than 180,000 agents throughout urban and rural areas of Bangladesh with over 30 million registered accounts.

In China, over 40 million brick-and-mortar merchants now accept Alipay. Overseas, Alipay now covers 40 countries and regions to provide more diversified services for Chinese travelling overseas.


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