You can hardly go into a supermarket, drugstore or convenience store these days without seeing an option to pay using any mobile wallet such as bKash, OK Wallet, or NexusPay. The consumer behavior is changing rapidly due to technology advancement and influences such as the Internet, mobile data, and devices. Mobile payment is becoming well in demand since it allows people to get things done efficiently and swiftly. We see more and more people turning to the mobile wallet as a quick and easy way to pay for purchases and bill payments. In Bangladesh, 7.40 crore people or 46 percent of the population have no bank accounts. Hence, financial institutions looking to increase their customer base are going mobile, and the result is outstanding. Prominent players in the mobile money markets are thriving, bringing in newer and exciting offers and services in the Bangladeshi market.
bKash is one of the leading Mobile Financial Services in the world which started operating in Bangladesh in July 2011. bKash began its operation as a joint venture between BRAC Bank Limited, Bangladesh and Money in Motion LLC, USA. In April 2013, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) became an equity partner. In March 2014, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and in April 2018 Ant Financial (Ali Pay)became investors of the company. Currently, bKash is running a network of more than 180,000 agents throughout urban and rural areas of Bangladesh with over 30 million registered accounts. bKash often runs a cash back campaign covering almost 10,000 merchant outlets. You can send money to any bKash account from Standard Chartered Bank, City Bank, BRAC Bank, Dhaka Bank, Midland Bank, Mutual Trust Bank Ltd. You can also pay utility bills and fees like DESCO, BTCL, NESCO, Palli Bidyut, Dhaka South City Corporation from the account. In 2017, bKash was ranked as the 23rd company in the annual list of Fortune Magazine’s ‘Change the World in 2017’ among the top 50 companies to make changes based on social issues.
Dutch-Bangla Bank Ltd (DBBL) pioneered Mobile Banking in Bangladesh. NexusPay, the e-wallet solution of DBBL, is the second most prominent mobile wallet in the Bangladeshi market. NexusPay is a consolidated cardless payment solution. It gives the flexibility of choosing any payment mode that a customer has with DBBL i.e., Nexus, Rocket, Agent Banking, VISA, and MasterCard. Some Major features of this app are virtual card download against customer’s any credit/debit card and Rocket account, cardless merchant payment by using the QR code and NFC, send money from downloaded card to any card or account. You can Scan the QR Code and pay at more than 10 thousand merchant outlets using NexusPay. NexusPay covers utility bills like DESCO, DESA, and NWPGCL.
OK Wallet is the Mobile Financial Service of ONE Bank Limited launched in November 2018. From the very start OK Wallet aimed to make it a lifestyle app where customers will get various facilities like ride sharing, doctor’s appointment, grocery shopping, various home services, Ticketing( Bus, Movie, Hotel), e-commerce payment solution at their fingertips. Within a few months, OK Wallet has managed to gain a considerable number of customers, merchants, and agents. OK Wallet gives an on-line registration facility which provides the customer chance to use OK Wallet after eight working hours. This wallet is the first mobile wallet that offers a seamless app-based solution to its Customers, Agents, and Merchants. OK Wallet frequently runs cash back offers. One can pay almost 2 thousand outlets using the wallet. Along with mobile recharge, customers can make utility payments at Dhaka WASA, Dhaka Power Development Company Ltd (DPDC) and North West Zone Power Distribution Company Ltd (NWZPDCL), NID Correction Fees using OK Wallet. OK Wallet has also developed an innovative B2B Digital Payment Solution to facilitate cashless payment among the retailers of different big FMCG companies.
CURRENTLY, bKASH IS RUNNING A NETWORK OF MORE THAN 180,000 AGENTS THROUGHOUT URBAN AND RURAL AREAS OF BANGLADESH WITH OVER 30 MILLION REGISTERED ACCOUNTS. bKASH OFTEN RUNS A CASH BACK CAMPAIGN COVERING ALMOST 10,000 MERCHANT OUTLETS.
In 2018, United Commercial Bank (UCB) launched a digital banking platform—Upay—for its clients. Upay uses advanced technologies like Blockchain and QR Code to ensure secure financial transactions. The platform aims to cater to all consumers, corporate and government payments like merchant shopping, bill payment, fund transfer, loan repayment, inward remittance, insurance premium, salary disbursement, and e-commerce. Moreover, the purchase of digital cheque for gifts, redemption of voucher and reward points, balance, and mini statement inquiry can also be performed via Upay.
iPay Systems Limited is a digital payment platform in Bangladesh. iPay basically ensures the transaction facilities between two parties through online fund transfers. Through the iPay systems, people can enjoy cashless transaction facilities for daily purchase, bill payment, and tax and VAT payment. To avail the services of iPay, one will have to open an e-Wallet that would be linked with one’s bank account. Users can pay credit card bills of 37 banking institutions and non-finance institution with iPay. DESCO, DPDC bills can also be paid using iPay.
Nagad is a venture by the Bangladesh Post Office that facilitates the day-to-day financial transaction needs of the people. With a host of essential services such as cash in/out, P2P money transfer and mobile top-ups, the purpose of Nagad is to enhance the lives of people by empowering them with financial flexibility.
Moving to a cashless ecosystem has many benefits. Cash is expensive, and it carries a higher degree of risk. On the contrary, digital money is cost effective and less risky. The mobile wallet is designed to provide financial services via mobile phones to both the unbanked and the banked people of Bangladesh. Digital payment ecosystems can also be a driver for business innovation. Entrepreneurs can have greater access to credit through credit scoring mechanisms based on transactional histories. Customers can choose the mobile wallet as an instrument of saving.
Digital payment ecosystems can also support the government’s efforts in improving efficiencies and ensuring transparency since the government is the largest payer (of salaries, pensions, and other social benefit payments) and collector (e.g. taxes, charges) in the country. The government can gain substantially from this cheap, transparent payment platform. But to promote a cashless society, the customer journey has to be comfortable and straightforward. Often lengthy paperwork deters people from adopting a mobile wallet. The introduction of e-KYC in this ecosystem will create much more momentum in the adaptation of the cashless economy in Bangladesh.