Ensuring Financial Inclusion
Mir Nawbut Ali, Chief Marketing Officer of bKash Limited explains that fintech needs to be innovative when marketing to ensure a strong foothold in consumers lives like the MFS app-king bKash, which has become a platform of charity, reliability and convenience.
Can you tell us about your 3-year journey with bKash? What has been a professional challenge in bKash that has contributed significantly to your growth as Chief Marketing Officer?
It is a wonderful journey that never lets me feel like I have learnt enough after years of experience. Rather, I kept on learning a lot of new things since joining bKash. A few years back when I was in GP, I saw how a company was building a robust network and changing the way people communicate. Here in bKash, I feel that we are changing the way Bangladeshi people use financial service. MFS is a relatively new industry, globally and locally. An important thing to reiterate is that bKash is a homegrown company, run by the hard-working Bangladeshis who are extremely talented. As the pioneer in the MFS industry bKash needs to innovate to build its service basket. It is very enlightening and educational as well as a fulfilling experience for me to be a part of this organization which creates meaningful and innovative services to make people’s lives easier. I get the satisfaction of creation here. In my age, it is normal to learn less and apply more. But in bKash, it’s quite the opposite.
Always being ready to embrace new things and going through every little detail are the key professional challenges in bKash as Chief Marketing Officer. Most of the services we offer are newly created and in many cases, previous experience doesn’t help. I believe, if you want to win professionally, there is no shortcut; you have to define it yourself what makes you an inseparable and responsible part of the company.
The blessing of digital financial services (DFS) like bKash cannot be overstated in the current COVID-19 scenario – how has the last 4 months shaped the marketing strategies of bKash?
Last 4 months were a very crucial period for bKash. Never before have we experienced such a situation and during this difficult time, it is important to be aligned with the spirit of the company – to be human-centric in all dealings. Our marketing strategy had the same mantra. We felt that we can keep people’s lives safe and moving by facilitating contactless and cashless transactions. So we communicated and educated people how to use bKash services for making life easier and tried to make sure that they need not leave their homes. Services like add money, mobile recharge, send money payment, pay the bill can be done remotely from home without going out from one’s mobile phone. Also, the bKash account opening was made simple so that it can be done sitting at home. We needed to inform people that they can use these safely and stay at home.
It is a duty towards the nation that we keep our services on during this emergency. bKash provides an essential service and to keep the service running bKash employees need to be on the field during this difficult time. Also, we helped the govt. to disburse incentive and stipend during this period and also helped BGMEA to disburse salary to the RMG workers of more than 500 factories in the shortest possible time amid this pandemic.
We also helped organizations like BRAC, Bidyanondo to collect donations during this time. bKash has a dedicated placement of Corona Info icon in its app through which customers can get the latest update on the situation through A2I. During Covid-19, bKash has indeed become a platform of charity, reliability and convenience.
What are some of the key driving factors that are garnering customer loyalty in favour of bKash in the DFS landscape?
Customer loyalty is gained by providing quality service. bKash earned the trust of customers and became the most loved brand by providing the simplest solutions for the necessary financial transactions in our life. Now wherever you go, you can find a bKash agent point within a few minutes even at the remotest corner of the country. Customers get bKash by their side at any emergency and that’s why bKash has become a household word in every family. Now people say “bKash me” instead of “send me the money”. This is our achievement.
We never launch any new service without being assured of the maximum quality. bKash employees dedicate their time to solve a real customer problem and bring simplicity to one’s life. They strive for bringing a perfect service and look at every little detail to make the service most user friendly. These are the key driving factors for bKash to achieve the customer loyalty we have today. Our obsession to make everything perfect leads us to make our hands dirty so that the customer does not have to go through any pain.
Can you elaborate on the marketing trends that are likely to emerge in the DFS sector? What is your vision for bKash?
Service adoption by the customers will increase significantly. We shall see more and more people using different types of services through MFS. More will start to use apps. People will start to replace cash transactions with digital transactions.
We want to contribute significantly towards cashless Bangladesh. bKash wants to take all the financial services to people’s doorsteps by partnering with different organizations and banks.
bKash has partnered on bilateral interoperability with different banks and cards, such as Dhaka Bank, City Bank, Bank Asia, Standard Chartered Bank, Brac Bank, Visa, and Mastercard. Are there plans to widen the scope of the partnership to bring in more banks?
We have plans to connect with all banks so that customers of all the banks can bring money to their bKash account or transfer money back to their bank account from bKash easily. Currently, bKash is connected to 18 banks along with VISA and MasterCard which ensures the large reach of the service. Discussion on interoperability is ongoing with the regulator.
What would be your advice for fintech startups when they plan to thrive on a robust marketing plan?
There is no certain formula to make a business successful as every business is unique. I believe all successful organizations solve customer problems and they do it such a way that customers are hooked to it. Any startup needs to make sure that they are solving a real-life customer problem and simplifying their life. Furthermore, all organizations have to make their hands dirty to be successful. Customers will be loyal since they do not have to do all this while the organizations are doing it for themselves. At the same time, there is no perfect marketing strategy for startups – it depends on time, situation and the service. All the startups have one thing in common which is the shortage of funds. They need to be innovative while marketing their product.