Sending money back home has become much easier now for Bangladeshis living abroad.
bKash, a household name offering mobile financial service, has joined forces with MasterCard and Western Union to launch a unique international remittance service for Bangladesh.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam termed this initiative ‘historic’ while inaugurating the service on Sunday at a Dhaka hotel.
“You have changed the way financial transactions happen here. People now say bKash me and they don’t say send cash,” he said. “This new initiative will benefit 8 million Bangladeshis living abroad.”
Foreign remittance, which accounts for 10 percent of the GDP, is one of the largest contributors to Bangladesh’s economy.
About 120 million people have mobile phones in Bangladesh and 22 million of the users have accounts with bKash, a joint venture with BRAC Bank launched in 2011.
bKash Chief Executive Officer Kamal Quadir said since most of the people live in rural Bangladesh, sometimes they have to walk miles to receive their remittance sent through conventional banking channel.
“This new solution will make it easier,” he said.
By using the new service, bKash’s registered customers can receive remittances from every Western Union branch and channel directly into their bKash account, 24 hours a day.
Once the transfer is complete, the funds can be accessed instantly.
Customers can either encash the money via 120,000 bKash agent locations across Bangladesh or can utilise the account balance to make person-to-person fund transfer, top up mobile airtime, pay bills, and shop in-store.
They can also store the money in their bKash accounts and earn interest on savings.
The customers have to enter the Western Union reference number, the amount, and the PIN, and the request will be processed using MasterCard’s secure payment technology. The funds will be credited to the bKash account.
A maximum of Tk 35,000 can be sent in one transaction. Five transactions can be made each day, but the amount of remittance cannot exceed Tk 115,000.
Up to Tk 150,000 can be sent in a month using a maximum 20 transactions.
MasterCard Group Executive Matthew Driver, Western Union’s Regional President Jean Claude Farah, and Managing Director of BRAC Bank Selim Hussain also spoke at the inaugural ceremony.
They said the new service will help deliver financial services at affordable costs to some of the most remote parts of Bangladesh.
“This is just the beginning of our partnership and we look forward to introducing more services for the ease and comfort of our customers,” said the BRAC Bank MD.