Users of bKash will now be able to receive remittance directly in their accounts, as the mobile money company tied up with MasterCard and Western Union yesterday.
MasterCard, a global technology company, Western Union, an international payment services company, and bKash launched cross-border remittance transfer at Sonargaon Hotel in Dhaka.
The tie-up will immediately benefit Bangladesh's 22 million bKash account holders. “It brings tremendous value to Bangladeshis living at home and abroad,” Kamal Quadir, chief executive of bKash, said at the launch.
Bangladesh is the eighth largest recipient of international remittance in the world, receiving $15.31 billion last fiscal year.
The new service stands to improve the ease and security with which millions of people are able to receive money from their loved ones abroad, the companies said in a joint statement. The new service builds on the unprecedented success of bKash, which has become a household name since its launch in 2011.
bKash, the second-largest mobile money company in the world after Vodafone's M-Pesa in Kenya, makes financial services accessible for millions of Bangladeshis, who would otherwise not have access to simple banking services.
People around the world can now use Western Union's trusted global network to send cross-border remittance that can be received by bKash customers 24 hours a day.
The process is simple to use. Customers enter the Western Union reference number, amount and personal identification number and the request will be processed using MasterCard's payment technology, and the funds will be credited to the bKash account.
The service accepts a single remittance transaction of up to Tk 35,000 ($500); up to five transactions per customer per day to a maximum of Tk 115,000; and a combined monthly remittance of up to Tk 150,000 in a maximum of 20 transactions.
Once the transfer is completed, the funds can be accessed instantly. Customers can either cash out the money via 120,000 bKash agent locations across the country, or utilise the account balance to make person to person fund transfers, top-up mobile airtime, pay bills and shop in-store.
They can also store the money in their bKash accounts and earn interest on savings.
Matthew Driver, group executive for global products and solutions at MasterCard, said: “This partnership is another step toward achieving our global commitment to make the financial system accessible to 500 million more people by 2020.”
The widespread adoption of mobile phones, not only in Bangladesh but around the world, presents the most exciting opportunity to enable mass adoption of financial services and facilitate financial inclusion, he said.
Jean Claude Farah, president of Western Union for the Middle East Africa, Asia Pacific and Eastern Europe, said the Western Union cross-border FinTech platform enables pay-out capabilities that leverage technology, regulatory compliance, and anti-money laundering infrastructure to enable efficient and reliable money movement.
“Being able to offer international money transfers into mobile phones in a nation that has a greater penetration of mobile phones than bank accounts is central to facilitating financial inclusion.”
Selim RF Hussain, managing director of Brac Bank, said the partnership has allowed remittance to be received literally at the fingertips of customers.
Western Union's network includes 500,000 agent locations in over 200 countries as well as digital channels such as WU.com and bank account-based transfers.
MasterCard will provide the real-time, back-end solution via its innovative MasterCard Send Platform.
bKash is a joint venture of Brac Bank, US-based Money in Motion, the International Finance Corporation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.