By Mohammed Waseem
Bangladesh is a country in the Indian Sub-Continent, which has a lot of people working in the foreign countries. This necessarily means that the Bangladeshi expatriates are a good target market for sending money back home, from any country. The Middle East itself has over 5 million Bangladeshi expatriates working in different fields.
These expatriates periodically send money to their families and friends in Bangladesh. One of the services they use is bKash. It is a joint venture between US based company, Money in Motion and Bangladesh based BRAC Bank. It functions as a subsidiary of BRAC Bank.
bKash was introduced to address the need to make financial services available to everyone in Bangladesh regardless of the remoteness of their location. 70% of the Bangladeshi population lives in rural areas and only 15% have a formal connection with a banking system. It is also reported that over 68% of Bangladeshis have mobile phones. To make these mobile phones more than just devices to talk on, this service was introduced.
bKash utilizes the existing mobile telecom network to extend financial services to Bangladeshis in a secure environment. It is very convenient, fast, secure and affordable. In fact, it is quite well adopted by Bangladeshis around the world. They are operated and promoted by agents who have small business establishments.
bKash has also partnered with exchange houses in many countries including the UAE, Oman, Bahrain and the UK. To send money, Bangladeshi expatriates should visit a participating exchange house, a branch or an agent and fill an applicable form. They need to mention the recipient’s bKash account number, which is their mobile number without the international dialing code. Currently, the operators supported include Robi, Grameenphone, Banglalink and Airtel.
To receive money, the recipient should have a bKash account, which can be opened by visiting any bKash agent. There is no charge for receiving money, except for withdrawing money from a BRAC Bank ATM or from an agent. International remittance limit is BDT 50 to BDT 150000 per transaction. The higher limit is maximum allowed limit per day and per month. At any point, a bKash wallet holder can keep not more than BDT 150000. So the limits may differ based on this as well.
bKash is quite trusted and widely used by Bangladeshis, especially in the Middle East. Small hourly internet operators and other such vendors act as agents and facilitate money transfer.