International consulting firm ShoreBank has secured a $10 million investment from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to support a new mobile money platform for the unbanked population of Bangladesh.
ShoreBank is partnering with bKash - a new venture between local outfits Brac Bank and Money in Motion - to provide services for low income people in Bangladesh to store, transfer, and receive money via a network of community-based agents and mobile phones.
Laurie Spengler, president of ShoreBank International says: "Only thirteen percent of Bangladeshis have bank accounts or are connected to the formal financial system. Everyone else must find ways to conduct commercial transactions outside the banking system."
He says SBI will work with bKash to strengthen the company's capacity in customer uptake/marketing, network growth, technology, and cash management. The longer-term vision is to provide links from bKash to regulated commercial banks for access to savings, credit and remittance services.
Says Spengler: "The Gates Foundation funded initiative will focus on supporting bKash in strategy and business plan development, developing and expanding its agent network across Bangladesh, facilitating fast customer uptake, establishing efficient cash management systems, and integrating systems and applications."