Resources Detail Mobile Financial Services in Bangladesh and Progress Made in the Cash-to-Mobile Transition

Numerous efforts are underway to integrate mobile payment systems in Bangladesh as a way to provide cost-effective access to resources in an effort to reduce poverty. Two brief case studies have been published which focus on the use of mobile payments in two different contexts. In addition, new tipsheets have been developed to help implementing partners better understand the landscape of mobile financial services available in Bangladesh.

English in Action (EIA) is an initiative funded by the UK’s Department for International Development in partnership with the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education, the Ministry of Education, and other local and international partners in Bangladesh. It is employing mobile phones, the internet, print materials, television, and peer-to-peer learning to help 25 million Bangladeshis improve their English as a pathway into work and out of poverty. Of the 25 million people targeted by English in Action, 15 million are school children and 10 million are adults. In addition, they are also aiming to reach 90,000 teachers by the end of the program. The 9-year program began in 2008 and will run until 2017. A recent publication from USAID’s Mobile Solutions Technical Assistance and Research (mSTAR) project, managed by FHI 360 details the experience of English In Action in Bangladesh in their transition from cash to mobile payments. It includes an overview of their activities, the types of transactions they transitioned to mobile, what that transition process entailed, and challenges and benefits associated with their transition. It also includes key takeaways from their experience so that others can apply English In Action’s lessons learned to their own transition to digital payments. Read the Mobile Money Snapshot here.

HelpAge International Bangladesh enables the elderly poor to claim their rights, challenge discrimination and overcome poverty, so that they can lead dignified, secure, active and healthy lives. The organization uses mobile money within the SHIREE-funded Accelerate Livelihood of Left-behind Older Workforce (ALLOW) project, which began in October 2011 and is anticipated to end in September 2014. It is being implemented in partnership with the Bangladesh Institute of Theater Arts (BITA) and Pidim Foundation. One of the primary components of the project is the distribution of cash transfers to the elderly poor in the river islands of Kurigram and Lakshmipur districts, which involves the handling and disbursement of significant amounts of cash. The program targets 32 villages spread across eight Unions: Chargazi, Char Borokhiri, Char Ramiz and Char Algi in Ramgati Upazilla, Lakshmipur District; and Danthvanga, Sholmari, Bondhober and Roumari Sadar in Roumari Upazilla, Kurigram District. Read the Mobile Money Snapshot here.

In addition, two new infosheets provide information on DBBL and bKash, different mobile financial services available in Bangladesh, so that USAID implementing partners can make more informed decisions when choosing a provider.