Hannes van Rensburg,
Date Posted: Wednesday, June 06, 2012
Kamal Quadir is a Bangladeshi American entrepreneur, probably best known for starting CellBazaar. Last year, Kamal got involved with mobile banking in emerging markets and was instrumental in the launch of bKash in Bangladesh. In January the Bangladesh Bank Governor Dr Atiur Rahman inaugurated bKash for GrameenPhone (see photo and Read here). This was a major milestone in the provision of full mobile banking services to the underbanked in Bangladesh.
Bangladesh is a large country with a large unbanked population. Because of the high levels of poverty and a large rural population, it is difficult to offer commercially viable services to this sector of the community. The more than forty banks offer limited electronic access to financial services and customers have to visit branches (predominantly in the cities) to be served. The functionality of existing mobile payment services are limited (typically only offering bill payment and airtime top-up). (Read the following source).
That is why the new bKash service launched in collaboration with BRAC bank, conforming to the central bank guidelines, backed by Visa and offering a comprehensive service is such a big step forward. Utilisation of an extensive agent network through small retailers, this service is available in all parts of the country and has already shown good growth since it was launched in July 2011. (Read here and here)