bKash, Bangladesh’s top fintech company and only Unicorn signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on March 29 with Huawei to deepen its partnership to drive financial inclusion in Bangladesh so that more people benefit from the country’s fledgling digital economy.
Huawei powers bKash’s services with its cutting-edge digital finance solutions.
Huawei South Asia Region President and Huawei Bangladesh CEO, Pan Junfeng, and Founder and CEO of bKash, Kamal Quadir, signed the MoU at Huawei Bangladesh Academy in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Speaking on the occasion, Quadir said financial inclusion and inclusive services have been part of bKash’s DNA since its inception in 2011.
“At the advent of the fourth industrial revolution, we are working towards a digital financial ecosystem and becoming a Smart Nation. The joint effort of bKash and Huawei aims at driving financial inclusion and eliminating poverty with innovative solutions,” said Quadir.
Huawei’s Pan said: “Moving forward, we will continue to deepen our partnership to empower and enable more people in Bangladesh… I believe our partnership will drive the growth of the digital economy in Bangladesh, setting a remarkable example to other emerging market (EM) countries in the region, when it comes to financial inclusion.”
Utilising Bangladesh’s ubiquitous mobile network coverage, bKash provides transformative services which customers can access, even while using most basic mobile phones.
It provides mobile financial services to 68 million people in the country which translates to catering to every family in Bangladesh.
bKash is integrated with banks, financial institutions, and service providers and this helps it to strengthen the cashless digital financial ecosystem of the country.
Huawei has been providing bKash technical support and strategic assistance. This leading ICT equipment and solution company has provided bKash its fintech mobile money core and E2E (enterprise to enterprise) solutions, including high-reliability hardware as well as large-scale capacity software. bKash uses Huawei’s Fintech Wallet and Fintech Finance, among other solutions.
USP of bKash
One of bKash’s unique selling points is that it lets users dial a number to access a menu (USSD menu) of transaction options, such as sending money and paying bills. This makes it possible for people in rural areas and those who don’t own smartphones access standard mobile financial services.
For more advanced users and to meet the development requirements of the industry, bKash, in 2018, launched an app version of its service.
The app provides more innovative features such as education fee payment, payroll servicing, savings, and digital nano-loans.
Using the app, eligible bKash users can apply for a collateral-free digital nano loan from a bank ranging from 500 Bangladesh taka (US$4.34) to 20,000 Bangladesh taka (US$174). This feature has helped Bangladesh enter an era of digital lending, helping customers avail of loans through a digital credit assessment and avoid the bottleneck of lengthy paperwork required for traditional bank loans.
Over the years, bKash has built a robust network of nearly 300,000 agents and 300,000 merchants across the country.
According to a study by the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS), the use of bKash has given a boost to the income of households in Bangladesh, empowered women and reduced the impact of risks during times of uncertainty.
According to the study, more than 14 per cent of the people in rural Bangladesh use bKash for receiving and sending money.
People turned to bKash's 24/7 service during the pandemic when lockdowns were in place and banks had to close, the study noted. This enabled the company to address an immediate need for financial services while setting a path toward more advanced functionality.
The study also showed that during natural calamities, non-bKash users saw their remittance decrease by 61 per cent and per capita earnings decline by 17 per cent.
Cash-in rose 33 per cent while cash-out increased by 30 per cent during floods, highlighting the impact of the MFS service providers, especially bKash, to withstand the challenges, according to the BIDS study.
The number of accounts in Bangladesh with mobile financial services (MFS), such as bKash, was 191 million as of December 2022, according to the latest data of the Bangladesh central bank.
Huawei technology stack
Huawei is one of the world’s top suppliers of fully virtualised and cloud-native implementation of Mobile wallet core for mobile financial services (MFS).
The Huawei solution is an open platform that helps the operator integrate and manage partners.
The company has deployed its fintech platform across more than 30 markets in Asia and Africa. In total, Huawei’s fintech solutions are being used by over 400 million people, processing US$420 billion worth of financial transactions in 2022.
Based on published mobile financial services data, and excluding China and PayPal, Huawei’s platform supports more than 50 percent of the global MFS market activity.
In Myanmar, Huawei and KBZ, the largest local bank, jointly operate KBZPay a payment wallet based on the public cloud.
KBZPay integrates various marketing tools to provide users and merchants with digital experience. Within just two and a half years, KBZPay has gained eight million registered users, becoming the No1 digital life payment brand in the Myanmar market.
In Kenya, Huawei works closely with Safaricom, the largest carrier in Africa, to build M-PESA, a payment brand in East Africa.
M-PESA has developed from a single "remittance home" service to a comprehensive daily life scenario involving clothing, food, shelter and transportation. Now M-PESA has 52 million customers. After 14 years of efforts, the local inclusive finance coverage has increased from 23 percent to 85 percent.
Huawei started its journey in Bangladesh in 1998. The company’s mission and vision have been to build a fully connected, intelligent Bangladesh. And it has been always devoted to supporting the country with its localized support and solution.
Huawei hopes the partnership with bKash will bring about inclusive finance coverage in Bangladesh.