The leading mobile financial services provider of Bangladesh, bKash Limited and Ant Financial Services Group, operator of Alipay, announced a strategic partnership on April 26 to promote financial inclusion for the unbanked and underbanked communities in Bangladesh. The partnership involves Ant Financial investing into bKash and increasing its technological capabilities, enabling the latter to provide greater convenience and security in their mobile financial services throughout Bangladesh.
Established in 2010 by BRAC Bank Limited and Money in Motion LLC, bKash is a platform that can store limited fund and provide easy ways to make payments and fund transfer services via basic mobile phones. Licensed by Bangladesh Central Bank, bKash is a subsidiary of BRAC Bank Limited, a leading private commercial Bank in Bangladesh, with operational engagement with 15 different banks. BKahs runs a network of more than 180,000 agents throughout urban and rural areas of Bangladesh with over 30 million registered accounts.
“Along with its investment, Alipay brings the best payment technologies built by thousands of engineers and the knowledge of applying those technologies to economies like China which went through a massive transformation in recent years. Such track record makes Ant Financial a fitting partner for bKash since Bangladesh too has a large population of 160 million and an economy that is advancing rapidly. This investment opens many new opportunities for bKash and demonstrates the confidence a world-class player is placing in Bangladesh,”said Kamal Quadir, Chief Executive Officer of bKash.
Operated by Ant Financial, Alipay is the world’s leading third-party payment platform. Launched in 2004, Alipay and its strategic partners in overseas markets currently have over 800 million users. In China, over 40 million brick-and-mortar merchants now accept Alipay.
“Ant Financial and bKash share similar goals, in that we want to bring equal opportunities to everyone here in Bangladesh. bKash can tap into the experience Alipay has acquired over the last decade serving 800 million users together with our strategic partners worldwide. As part of Ant Financial’s global strategy, we are keen to share our technology know-hows with partners like bKash, who has successfully brought financial services to the unbanked population in Bangladesh. bKash is managed by a strong team with deep local knowledge and execution capabilities. We are confident that, together with bKash, we can bring highly secure and inclusive financial services to address the needs of local people and small businesses here,” said Eric Jing, Executive Chairman and CEO of Ant Financial.
“bKash, a company taking financial services to the doorsteps of millions of unbanked people in Bangladesh, will benefit immensely from this landmark partnership with Ant Financial. It will help bKash significantly step up its activities in changing and positively impacting the lives of millions,” said Selim R. F. Hussain, Managing Director and CEO of BRAC Bank.
bKash and Ant Financial were both among the list of 50 companies named in Fortune Magazine’s 2017 Change The World list. It is a recognition given to companies that have had a positive social impact through activities that are part of their core business strategy.
International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have been shareholders in bKash, since 2013 and 2014 respectively.