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South Asia

Bangladesh’s bKash: Putting innovation and financial inclusion first

Fintech firm bKash has revolutionized Bangladesh’s payments industry in the 11 years since it was founded. But its CEO still has more tricks up his sleeve.

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Masayoshi Son’s SoftBank fund is the latest big-name investor in bKash. Photo: Getty

You know a company has made it when its name becomes a verb.

At home, Bangladeshi fintech sensation bKash has achieved the status accorded globally to Google, Hoover and Skype. While 60 million Bangladeshis, or 36% of the population, use the platform, the calibre of investors saying “bKash me” impresses even more.

The mobile financial services firm that CEO Kamal Quadir founded in 2011 has long been the nation’s premier investment.

In 2013, it received a seal of approval from the World Bank’s International Finance Corp. A year later, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation took a stake. In 2018, Jack Ma’s Ant Group became a shareholder. And in November 2021, Quadir’s team won the backing of the world’s most-watched and often savviest venture capital player: SoftBank Group’s Vision Fund.

Masayoshi Son’s SoftBank taking a 20% stake “means we’re building a textbook company,” Quadir tells Asiamoney. It “validates our dedication and relentless efforts these last 10 years and places its trust on the potential of a well-regulated fintech space”.

Yet,


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