Mobile money company bKash has taken steps to register its logo in eight Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian nations to prohibit the unauthorised use of its logo to remit money illegally to Bangladesh.
In several countries with large numbers of Bangladeshis, people are illegally using bKash and the logos of some other popular mobile money brands like Rocket to provide remittance services.
To stop the illegal use of its logo, bKash began the process of registering it in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Singapore and Malaysia, said Kamal Quadir, chief executive of bKash.
Bangladesh's biggest mobile money company has also appointed law firms in those countries to serve legal notices on illicit money traders, he added.
Bangladesh is not a signatory to the Madrid Protocol, a protocol relating to the international registration of trademarks, said Quadir. “That's why we are taking initiatives to trademark bKash in those eight countries, which will allow us to challenge the unauthorised use of our logo in those countries.”
bKash took the step as unscrupulous persons and entities abroad, posing as bKash agents, lure migrant workers into their shops to remit money.
Market insiders said it impacted remittance flow through legal channels. The central bank also lowered the ceiling for mobile banking transactions to curb the use of alternate paths.
Customers can deposit a maximum of Tk 15,000 into a mobile banking account each day, while Tk 10,000 can be withdrawn, which was Tk 25,000 for both previously.
bKash is also seeking intervention from the host nations and monitoring of agent activities.
It is also updating Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit under Bangladesh Bank on the initiatives, said officials of the operator.
bKash officials said these initiatives seem to yielding some positive outcomes as authorities in Dubai raided 25 shops linked to illegal money transfers and penalised them heavily last week.
The Bangladesh Embassy in Kuwait has issued notices among the Bangladeshi workers, asking them to use legal channels for remittance services.
“We welcome the move by the UAE government and Bangladesh Embassy in Kuwait to curb illegal money transfers,” said Zahedul Islam, spokesman for bKash.
bKash was the first to begin its services in 2011 and currently, there are 19 mobile money providers in the country.
However, bKash and Rocket control more than 94 percent of the total transaction volume, according to a survey report run by the BIBM two months back.
Last year, total mobile money transactions stood at Tk 234,691.79 crore, with 48.75 percent year-on-year growth.