bKash CEO Discusses the Scope, Growth and Future Prospects of Mobile Banking in Bangladesh
Friday, January 16, 2015
BKash started as a financial inclusion service-provider and is now growing very quickly. Do you think of bKash as being, still just a financial inclusion service-provider or an economy-wide mobile payments platform?
First, let’s look at how bKash came about. The forces behind bKash – Brac Bank and Money in Motion – have the history of working with the idea of inclusivity. Brac needs no introduction, and the people behind Money in Motion also have also been working in the “inclusion space” for the last 20 years. Financial inclusion will always remain in the DNA of bKash, and we have no desire to move away from that agenda.
However, we live in an economy where the customer for inclusivity and the “included customer” are intertwined. For example, if my wife goes shopping and the shopkeeper wants to be paid through bKash, she needs to have a bKash account. She is entitled to that service, and we should allow her to have a bKash account. But that does not mean we, as a company, are graduating out of that inclusive agenda.
Do you think bKash has a perception problem? That it is just for low-income individuals or households?
I would prefer to use the term “common people” when referring to our most likely customer base. If we change our communication strategy for the sake of including higher income groups – for whom bKash may be an added layer of convenience on top of the many (debit) cards they already use – then the common people who wholeheartedly recognise bKash as their financial tool might get a different signal. We may end up isolating the vast majority of common people whose needs we fulfill most effectively.
We have no plans to change our communication strategy. We also think it is critical for other user groups to know that they can participate. However, their exposure or access to information about bKash is high, so they will be able to figure out that they can also participate in bKash transactions.
It is a well-crafted perception, not an accidental one.