The emphasis on inclusiveness in finance means that not only are the days gone when you had to go to the bank for certain transactions like paying bills, withdrawals, etc. The advent of digital innovations in the field heralded a new era of paperless money transactions in the world during the Nineties. Appearing on the scene as the handmaiden of Fintech (Financial Technology) is the innovative approach to managing money called Mobile Financial Services (MFS).
MFS refers to branchless banking whereby financial services are offered to both banked and unbanked people efficiently under reasonable charge-rates. MFS offers advanced-level financial services combining traditional banking system with the wireless telecommunication technology to assure instant and secured money transaction process.
What are the benefits of MFS? Like the formal banking system, you can do savings, send and withdraw money via MFS. You can also pay your utility bills using this platform. Nowadays, MFS platforms through their ‘mobile wallets’ are offering wide ranging facilities like remittance, purchasing goods and services, etc. MFS have speeded up the process of making deposits, withdrawing cash, sending or receiving funds using a registered mobile account. In simple words, MFS provide easy access to formal banking system.
In Bangladesh, MFS got popularity in the name of Mobile Banking. Generally, the agents of respective banks enable these services after registering the mobile account. Under this platform, a mobile account owner can withdraw cash, and send/receive money via the independent agent locations without visiting any bank. By virtue of MFS, people living in the remote locations of the country can save money to their mobile accounts at nominal amounts without going through the hassle of moving to banks physically.
The concept of Mobile Financial Services (MFS) is still new in Bangladesh. Our report aims to introduce the readers with the leading MFS provider companies and compare their offered services in Bangladesh.
The Best Mobile Financial Service (MFS) Providers in Bangladesh
Mobile financial services (MFS) are revolutionising the traditional money transaction process via formal banks. Bangladesh Bank has allowed 16 leading banks to offer MFS in Bangladesh. In this special report, we are going to focus on the top performing MFS providers in Bangladesh.
Leading the way: bKash
The spectacularly successful bKash is the major player in the field of MFS in Bangladesh. Backed up by Brac Bank, bKash started their MFS program in 2011. By 2019 it had 3.1 crore active users. With some 180,000 agents countrywide effectively acting as bank branches to facilitate their user base, bKash is holding above 80 percent share of the total MFS market in Bangladesh. Up to July 2019, more than TK 37,477.35 crore has been transacted through bKash MFS.
They offer MFS include cash-in, cash out, bill payments, mobile recharge, remittance, donation, purchasing movie ticket, saving, etc. These can be availed through the prominent telecommunication networks in Bangladesh.
Dutch Bangla Bank Limited (DBBL) was the first bank who launched banking services and financial facilities using the mobile communication network in 2012. DBBL provided bank-led mobile banking services were re-branded as ‘Rocket’. DBBL’s Rocket is currently the second largest player holding around 17 percent market share in the domain of mobile banking sector of Bangladesh.
Rocket services include cash deposit, cash withdrawal, ATM money withdrawal, mobile top-up, person to person (P2P) Transfer, bank account to Rocket account transfer, merchant payment, international remittance, utility bill payment, salary disbursement, government allowance disbursement, etc. Customers can easily avail the DBBL provided mobile banking services via ‘Rocket’ app.
SureCash is another potential MFS platform launched by Progoti Systems Ltd in 2015. SureCash represents an open network of payment in corporation with several local banks, with above 1,000 payment partners. SureCash developed their exclusive mechanism focusing on government education programs, schools, colleges, utilities, etc.
SureCash MFS offer money transfers via cash-in and/or cash-out, person-to-person (P2P) money transactions, inward foreign remittances, utility bill payments, government charges/payments, educational institute fee payments, purchasing goods and services, etc. Clients can enjoy SureCash MFS platform downloading the SureCash app from the Play Store.
Bangladesh Post Office (BPO) launched ‘Nagad’ a Digital Financial Service (DFS) in November 2018. Nagad is re-branded version combining the Electronic Money Transfer System (EMTS) and Postal Cash Card service previously announced by BPO.
Nagad MFS platform covers money transactions via Cash-In, Cash-Out, and Send Money. These MFS also include popular services like, mobile recharge. The upcoming services include utility bills payment, and e-commerce payment gateway. Nagad MFS can be availed by ‘Nagad’ mobile Apps.
Ease of Opening Account
Forget those days, when people need to visit bank physically to perform formalities – like filling out an account opening form, submitting documents personally – and then had to wait for around 2 weeks to receive the chequebook. The popular MFS platforms in Bangladesh offer simple account opening procedure. You can open bKash, Rocket, SureCash and Nagad account through Robi, Airtel, Teletalk, Grameenphone, and Banglalink.
You can open a bKash account visiting their service centres with necessary documents like, National ID or Driving License or Passport, Photograph, and your mobile phone with SIM card. All you need to do is fill out the bKash Account Opening Form, then press your thumb print and finally put your signature properly.
After the verification, you can avail all MFS services including Cash Out, Mobile Recharge, make Payments, etc. offered by bKash. Dialing *247# you can enjoy bKash MFS services 24 hours a day, and 7 days a week.
Via ‘bKash’ App.
If you would like to open bKash account via app, it might take only a few minutes. First download the bKash app from Google Playstore. Then, tap new account registration and carry on the process. After successful submission of all these information, bKash will send you a confirmation PIN. Then you can dial at *247# to avail bKash MFS services 24 hours a day, and 7 days a week.
You can open Rocket Account via Visiting Centers. First you need to fill up and submit the KYC Form to the agent along with your photograph and National ID (NID). Then, the agent will help you to complete the process. Your Rocket account will be created in the DBBL system which is your mobile SIM number plus one check digit. You will receive a confirmation SMS which containing your Rocket account Number You are also recommended to remember the check digit.
You can easily open account via ‘Rocket’ app after downloading it from Play store.
You can open your SureCash account by visiting the nearest SureCash center or authorized SureCash agent. To open a SureCash mobile banking account you need to bring your own mobile phone, one copy passport size photo, and photocopy of own NID or passport or driving license. First, an authorized SureCash agent will help you to carry out the registration process.
When the registration is done successfully, you will get an SMS in your mobile containing a 12 digits wallet number. The first 11 digits are your mobile number and 12th digit is the check digit. Check digit will you security against any kind of incorrect transaction.
You can also do the registration process via ‘SureCash’ app after downloading it from the Google Play Store.
For opening Nagad account, first download the ‘Nagad’ App from Google Play Store or App Store. All you need is your original National Identity card (NID). Navigate to the account opening tab and follow the system.
Money Transaction Service
Bkash Money Transaction Service
Industry leader bKash MFS platform allows you to transact money in several ways, like recharging money to your own bKash account, releasing money from your bKash account and sending money to another owner’s bKash account.
bKash Cash In (Cash Deposit)
You can deposit money to your bKash Account via ‘Cash in’ service. For this purpose you need to visit any any bKash agent. Then, inform that agent how much amount you wanna Cash In. Then the bKash agent would help you to complete the procedure. If the desired amount is BDT 5,000 or higher, you are required to mention your National ID Card number. Bkash Cash-in is a free service. So you don’t have to pay any extra charge beside the cashed-in money.
bKash Cash Out (Cash Withdrawal)
If you have adequate balance in your bKash Account, you can use the ‘Cash Out’ service under bKash MFS to withdraw money from your bKash account whenever you want. You can avail the ‘Cash Out’ service either from any bKash agent or ATM.
Bkash ‘Cash-out From Agent’ service allows minimal withdrawal limit of BDT 50 to BDT 25000 at maximum. For any amount of withdrawal charge is 1.85%. To Cash Out from your bKash Account, visit to any bKash agent. If the amount is BDT 5,000 or higher, you would’ve to mention your National ID Card number.
After completion of the procedure, both you and the agent will receive a confirmation message. Don’t forget to count the amount provided by the agent before signing the Register. Bkash ‘Cash-out From Agent (via app)’ limit is 50 BDT to 25000 BDT. Charge is 1.5%.
Bkash ‘Cash-out From ATM’ service offered money withdrawal limit ranges from BDT 2000 BDT to 25000 BDT. Cash withdrawal charge is 1.5%, which accounts for BDT 30 for withdrawal of BDT 2000. When you are requesting ATM Cash Out, the process is a bit different. Get the required security code to withdraw cash from BRAC Bank and any Q-Cash ATM.
To withdraw cash from BRAC Bank ATM, visit a booth where Cash Out from bKash Account is enabled. The ATM screen will guide you to carry out the process. Don’t forget to check the entered information on the ATM screen. After cash withdrawal, collect your receipt. You will receive a confirmation SMS from bKash.
bKash Send Money
Send Money is another great bKash MFS feature which allows you in transferring money from your bKash Account to another owner’s bKash Account. Limit ranges from minimum BDT 10 to BDT 25000. Bkash tariff is BDT 5 for sending any amount. To send money navigate your bKash Mobile Menu by dialing *247#. Pick the “Send Money” option and follow the system. When the process is done, both you and the receiver will receive a confirmation message from bKash. You can 'Send Money' at free of cost via bKash App!
Bank to Bkash money transaction is free. Now bKash clients can transfer money instantly from Bank account to bKash account number via Internet Banking. You will find the list of banks on bKash website, to transfer money using bank’s internet banking.
Money transfer from Card to Bkash is totally free. You can deposit money to bKash customer account from Mastercard. A bKash account owner (active account) can draw money from any Mastercard, Debit card, Credit card and Prepaid card issued by any Government approved Bank or Financial Institutions in Bangladesh.
Rocket Money Transaction Service
Like bKash, the Rocket MFS allows cash deposit, cash withdrawal and sending money service. You can get this service both from agents and ‘Rocket’ app.
You can avail the cash-in (deposit) service from any DBBL Branch, and DBBL agent. This service is also available at UISC, Banglalink, Airtel, and Citycell retail points as well as Mobicash marked outlets of Grameen Phone.
When you hand over the cash to the DBBL Agent, s/he will initiate the transaction from his/her mobile account by dialing *322#. The Agent will issue you (customer) a receipt. The system will send an SMS to your (customer) mobile Rocket account number. For security, don’t forget to check the received amount
You can get cash-out (withdraw) service from any DBBL Branch and ATM, DBBL authorized or own agent, Citycell, UISC, Banglalink, Airtel retail points and Grameenphone Mobicash outlets. First you need to ask the DBBL Agent how much money you want to withdraw. Then, the agent will initiate the transaction from his/her mobile account by dialing *322#. After completion of the procedure, the system sends an SMS to your (customer's) mobile. Agent will hand over the money to you (customer).
You can also get cash-out (withdraw) service using any DBBL ATM Booth. In normal situation a screen will pop up in ATM monitor indicating that the ATM is ready for designated financial transaction. For cash ‘Rocket’ withdrawal service, press ‘Mobile Banking’ Button. Then type your 12-digit Rocket account number on the ATM screen. Press ‘Correct’ button after checking and collect the money with receipt.
DBBL Rocket offers ‘Send money’ service, which allows you to transfer money from one Rocket account to another Rocket account. To enjoy this service from DBBL Rocket account, all you need to do is just dial at *322# and follow the procedure mentioned in DBBL website.
You can also transfer money from bank account to your DBBL Rocket account or vice versa. This MFS also allows you to transfer money from any DBBL Debit Card to DBBL Rocket account. Dial at *322# to avail this service and complete the procedure according to in DBBL website.
SureCash Money Transaction Service
You can send money from your SureCash mobile account to another SureCash account within a few seconds. The money transaction process is simple and fast. To get this service, just dial at *495# and navigate to SureCash USSD menu. Then press ‘REPLY’ and enter ‘1’ (Send Money). When the procedure is done, both you and recipient will get confirmation SMS from SureCash.
Table: SureCash Transaction Limit
Note. Reprinted from SureCash. (n.d) ‘Transaction Limit’. Retrieved January 21, 2020 from surecash.net/transaction-limit/.
Nagad Money Transaction Service
Like bKash, Rocket and SureCash, the ‘Nagad’ MFS platform includes ‘Send money’ service. It will allow you in sending or transferring money from your ‘Nagad’ mobile account to another owner’s ‘Nagad’ account. The process is very easy. Go to your Nagad mobile menu to navigate the send money option. On completion of the procedure, both you and the recipient will get a confirmation SMS on respective mobiles from the Nagad system.
Ease of payments
The leading MFS providers in Bangladesh have made the purchasing procedure easier and faster than ever before. Now you can make the payment – for purchasing goods or utility bills or different types of fees and charges – within a few moments without going through the hassle of physical movements.
Payment via bKash
You can easily send payments from your own bKash mobile account to another “Merchant” who accepts “bKash Payment”. This MFS is available at more than 47,000 outlets countrywide. To bKash your Payment navigate to your bKash Mobile Menu by dialing *247#. Then, choose the “Payment” option and follow the method mentioned in bKash website.
Many people suffer electricity line cut for not paying bill on time due to many reasons like sickness, lack of time, traffic jam on the road, etc. Thanks to bKash MFS for initiating ‘Pay Bill’ service. Now you can pay your Electricity and other utility bills anytime and from anywhere using bKash ‘Pay Bill’ service. Just dial at *247# to recharge your DESCO Smart Pre-paid Meter.
Payment via SureCash
SureCash MFS platform includes an exclusive service for sending fees to schools and colleges. Now you don’t need to visit the school or college physically for paying the education fees; rather you can pay while staying at home. It not only saves you time but also reduces hassle. To get this service, dial at *495# and navigate to SureCash USSD menu. Then, press REPLY tab and enter 3 (for Payment). And follow the system mentioned in SureCash website.
Like bKash, SureCash MFS offers the utility bill payment service. You can pay municipality bills as well as utility bills via SureCash. It gets you rid from the stress of visiting any utility office or bank branch for paying bills. Just dial at *495# and open your SureCash USSD menu. Press REPLY tab and enter 3 (Payment). And follow the designated system.
Surecash E-commerce Payment
SureCash MFS allows you to purchase goods from online, which is a boon for busy people. The process is quite simple. Just pick your desired product and go to cart (payment). Then, select SureCash as payment option and enter your SureCash wallet number. When the payment is done, you will receive a confirmation SMS.
Another feature of SureCash MFS is the Credit Card Payment option. To enjoy this service, dial at *495# and navigate to your SureCash USSD menu. After Pressing on REPLY tab, enter ‘3’ (Payment). Then, enter ‘credit card payment’ as KEYWORD. Choose credit card type and insert your credit card number. After completion of the payment process, you will receive a confirmation SMS.
Does it pay to save?
Many people, especially those living in remote places, don’t practice saving to avoid the annoyance of visiting banks physically. Thanks to the latest technology of Mobile Financial Services (MFS). This platform not only allows the user to transact money or purchase products; but also encourages users to build the habit of savings at nominal amounts any time they feel convenient.
Bkash Savings Facility
Additionally bKash MFS promises to keep your money safe. In addition to this, bKash offers up to 4% Interest (annual rate) on the Savings of your bKash mobile account. However, this interest offer is applicable to the bKash Customer Accounts only. Dial at 16247 from your bKash mobile account to avail this service.
Table: bKash Slab wise Interest Rate Per Annum
Note. Reprinted from bKash. (n.d) ‘Interest on Savings’. Retrieved January 21, 2020 from bkash.com/products-services/interest-on-savings.
For example, if an individual (bKash account owner) keeps a minimum balance of BDT 1,000 in his/her bKash account throughout a month, does at least 2 transactions and keeps an average day end balance between BDT 1,000 to BDT 5,000.99 in that month. Then, that individual (bKash account owner) will receive 1.5% rate of interest (at annual rate) upon the average balance of that specific month. VAT & AIT charges will be deducted as per the rules of Government of Bangladesh.
Nagad Sanchay Details
Bangladesh Post Office (BPO) has initiated a praiseworthy saving plan through their MFS platform ‘Nagad’. Nagad claims that their customers will get the highest profit for saving money in their Nagad accounts. All regular Nagad customers are eligible for availing the profit as per the table below.
Table: Nagad Profit Rates
Note. Reprinted from Nagad. (n.d) ‘Sanchay Details’. Retrieved January 21, 2020 from nagad.com.bd/service/sanchay/.
Other MFS Benefits
Both bKash and Rocket MFS provide international remittance transfer service. Remitter can transfer the remittance from an Exchange House (nominated by bKash or DBBL) through a partner Bangladeshi Bank (nominated by bKash or DBBL). The remitted money will be transferred to the beneficiary's bKash/Rocket account within a few days and the beneficiary will instantly receive an SMS when the deposit takes place.
Bkash MFS allows ‘donation’ service for healthcare service, education, and zakat. You will find a list of donation-receiving organizations in bKash website.
Mobile Recharge service is available for any bKash/ Rocket/ Nagad/ SureCash Account holder to recharge any Grameenphone, Banglalink, Robi, Teletalk and Airtel number. You can recharge to your own mobile account or other owner’s mobile account number.
According to Mustafa K Mujeri, executive director of the Institute for Inclusive Finance and Development, about 33% of the total population of Bangladesh has no access to formal banking service, or any micro-financial institution. In this situation, MFS appeared as a boon for the rural unbanked people in Bangladesh. MFS has successfully brought around five crore unbanked Bangladeshi people under formal financial services in the last few years. According to Bangladesh Bank data, the average daily transaction through MFS is about Tk 1263.96 crores in November 2019.
Recently, MFS initiatives are flourishing in Bangladesh. With the aim to develop a highly competitive, economical, commercially-viable, and secure MFS market in the country, Bangladesh Bank issued MFS guideline for Banks in 2011.
bKash (BRAC Bank) currently dominates the MFS space accounting for 80% of the market followed by Rocket (DBBL) claiming 17% of the total market-share. The two leading MFS providers (bKash and Rocket) are dominating 97% of the country’s total MFS market share.
So far we have highlighted the major features offered by the top 4 (bKash, Rocket, SureCash and Nagad) MFS platforms in Bangladesh. All of these MFS platforms are easy to use. The customers can avail these MFS services through downing respective apps from the Google Playstore.
All of our discussed MFS platforms provide cash deposit, and cash withdrawal service. But Bkash and Rocket MFS are leading ahead of the MFS platforms by virtue of their wide-ranging money transaction service that include money transfer to mobile account from bank and debit card.
MFS platforms in Bangladesh have created new opportunity for purchasing goods online from e-commerce website. In this race, bKash and SureCash MFS left the others behind. You can send online payments and utility bills via bKash MFS. You can also send utility bills and e-commerce payments through SureCash MFS. Besides these, using SureCash platform, you can pay educational institute fees, which is certainly a huge plus.
The banks provide interest on deposits, whereas the MFS platforms in Bangladesh offer interest on your mobile financial balance. bKash offers a good amount of interest per annum for keeping money in your bkash mobile account. Nagad provides a considerably higher rate of interest for saving in your Nagad account.
Undoubtedly, the current MFS platforms have created new opportunities for people in doing business, education, saving and other personal tasks in a faster and smarter way.