Responsible Finance Forum

Mobile Financial Services in Bangladesh

Jaheed Parvez, Ariful Islam and Josh Woodard
01 May 2015
Source:  USAid

This report is the consolidation of findings derived from desk research and face-to-face interviews with key mobile financial services providers, telecom operators, technology platform providers, regulators, and USAID health and agriculture project staff and beneficiaries.

The objective of this report is two-fold: The first is to better understand the progress the mobile financial services market in Bangladesh has made to date, including regulations, available products and their characteristics, agent network size and geographical coverage, and the competitive landscape. The second is to have a better understanding of how a selection of staff and beneficiaries from USAID agriculture and health projects are using both traditional and mobile financial services. This was undertaken with the overall aim to provide USAID, its implementing partners, and other development organizations with updated market information so that they can better identify appropriate opportunities to begin their journey transitioning away from cash towards digital payments.

Bangladesh has a rapidly growing mobile financial services industry, with at least 10 providers already offering services on the market, and more than 8% of the total registered mobile money accounts globally. All this has happened in less than four years since the launch of the first mobile financial service products in 2011. Yet despite this rapid growth, uptake among development organizations in Bangladesh remains low. A baseline study conducted by mSTAR/ Bangladesh on the status of mobile money usage by USAID IPs finalized in June 2014 found that 86% of respondents (representing 24 organizations) were not using mobile money.