March 10

A New Mobile-Money Firm in Bangladesh Is Benefiting From Special Treatment

The fabric shops are far more eye-catching, but the business that attracts the most customers in Islampur market, Bangladesh’s biggest textile bazaar, is a drab hole in the wall. A long queue of young men, all clutching mobile phones, wait patiently to hand the shopkeeper faded notes to top up their bKash accounts.

Since mobile money took off in Bangladesh nearly a decade ago, bKash has dominated the industry. It has done so well that the company’s name has become a verb, notes Biru Paksha Paul, a former chief economist of Bangladesh Bank, the central bank: “‘I’ll bKash you some money,’ the kids say, instead of transfer.” When Mr Paul first heard that a new firm, Nagad, was entering the business, he was pleased: “Some healthy competition at last.” Alas, Nagad’s success is a sign of just the opposite.

Photo courtesy of Ismael Ferdous.

Source: The Economist (link opens in a new window)