Bangladesh: Mobile Money Drives Financial Inclusion

Dec 2016
Bangladesh, December, 11 2016 - Financial inclusion expanded 8 percentage points year-on-year in 2015, driven by growth in mobile money, according to a recent study.

About 43 percent of Bangladeshis are financially included, says the study conducted by Washington-based research company InterMedia with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation based on statistics of 2015.

Of the figure, 24 percent of citizens are covered by non-bank financial inclusion and 19 percent have full-service bank accounts. Of them, 9 percent have mobile money accounts.

There were 3.9 crore registered mobile financial service accounts in Bangladesh until October this year, with only 1.38 crore active, according to the central bank.

Customers transferred Tk 20,692.43 crore in 12.85 crore transactions in October this year, according to central bank statistics.

However, account access and usage remain a problem – while the number of active mobile money account users doubled in the past year, according to the report, known as the Financial Inclusion Insights. Of active registered users, 13 percent have used at least one advanced mobile money function in a month, the study said.

Digital financial services give people a secure way to save, which allows them to build cushion against financial shocks that would otherwise pull them right back into poverty, it said.

The largest increases in registered mobile money use are among male, urban and above-poverty populations. Men enjoyed three times the growth in financial inclusion than women: 13 percent of men were using MFS, while it was 4 percent for women.

In the urban segment, 13 percent of citizens were using mobile money in 2015 and 7 percent in rural areas.

Financial inclusion is higher among those who are using mobile phones to send and receive text messages: 64 percent financially-included people have their own handsets, 32 percent were using mobile phones by borrowing from others and the rest 4 percent had no mobile connections, the report said. On the other hand, 37 percent of Bangladeshi adults can send a text message and 49 percent of this volume are financially included. Of the 63 percent of Bangladeshi adults who have never sent a text message, only 39 percent are financially included.

The report said 40 percent of the users of DBBL mobile money (recently rebranded as Rocket) have their own accounts. For bKash, a subsidiary of Brac bank, it is only 24 percent. Seventy percent of bKash users dealt with agents' accounts, while it is 48 percent for DBBL's agent accounts.

Of the total transactions in 2015, 82 percent was occupied by bKash. With the help of other mobile money channels, DBBL's market share was around 17 percent in 2015.

The report also found that bank account holders are primarily male, literate and live on earnings above $2.5 a day.

About 72 percent of adults know that mobile money agents are within one kilometre of their home, the study found.

The study also mentioned that digital financial inclusion was low among the poor, especially among the extreme poor.

The study found 92 percent of adults were aware of mobile money in 2015 and 33 percent of them were using the service.

In the previous year, the awareness ratio was 91 percent and of it, 23 percent were using the service. 

Source : The Daily Star

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