Bangladesh's best digital bank 2018: Brac Bank
Like Google, Skype and Hoover, the ubiquity and ease of the bKash mobile payments system across Bangladesh is such that the platform has become a verb.
Eight years after bKash was launched by entrepreneur Kamal Quadir, 30 million Bangladeshis – the number of active bKash users – don’t so much ‘send money’ any more but ‘bKash’ each other. And they do so five million times a day, collectively transacting billions of taka to e-wallets on phones around the country through Quadir’s platform.
That’s a boon for Bangladeshi banks, unlocking unbanked funds that they would have had to open myriad new expensive branches to reach. Now they are accessible via bKash’s 180,000-strong agent network, or wherever there’s a mobile-phone tower.
bKash has also energised remote rural areas, raising some of the world’s poorest people into the economic mainstream.
Data generated by bKash helps authorities see where cash is generated and needed, providing tools for economic policymakers and banks.
Neither a bank nor a deposit-taker, bKash may have been inspired by Kenya’s pioneering M-Pesa system, but now the Bangladeshi platform that’s 51% owned by Brac Bank, with minority shares held by the International Finance Corporation and the Gates Foundation, has become the acknowledged global leader in mobile financial services.