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MasterCard, Western Union and bKash launch mobile remittance service in Bangladesh

Today, MasterCard, Western Union, bKash, one of the world’s leading mobile financial service (MFS) providers and BRAC Bank launched a new, international remittance receiving service in Bangladesh.

The new service enables bKash’s registered customers to use their mobile phones to receive remittances from abroad directly into their bKash accounts.

Bangladesh is the tenth largest receiver of international remittances in the world, and therefore the new service stands to improve the ease and convenience with which millions of people are able to receive money from their loved ones abroad – a vital lifeline for many families.

The new service builds on the unprecedented success of bKash, which has attracted more than 22 million customers since its launch in 2011. Now people around the world can use Western Union’s trusted global network for sending cross-border remittances that can be received by bKash customers directly onto their mobile phones or collected from a Western Union® Agent location. Western Union’s network includes an unparalleled 500,000 Agent locations in over 200 countries and territories* as well as digital channels such as WU.com and bank account based transfers.

MasterCard plays a critical role in this relationship by providing the real-time, back-end solution via its innovative MasterCard Send Platform, which, by connecting bKash, BRAC Bank and Western Union, helps to further enhance the efficiency and reliability of the end-to-end remittance process.

By using the new service, bKash’s registered customers can receive remittances from every Western Union send market and channel directly into their bKash account, 24 hours a day. The process is simple to use; customers simply enter the Western Union money transfer control number (MTCN), amount and bKash PIN and the request will be processed using MasterCard’s secure payment technology and funds credited to the bKash account.

The service accepts single transaction remittances of up to BDT 35,000 (approximately US$500); up to BDT 115,000 (approximately USD $1,500) over five transactions per customer per day; and combined monthly remittances of up to BDT 150,000 (approximately US$1,900) and a maximum of 20 transactions a month.

Once the transfer is completed, the funds can be accessed instantly. Customers can then either cash out the money via 120,000 bKash agent locations across the country, or can utilize the account balance to make person to person fund transfers, 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.

bKash makes financial services accessible and affordable to millions of Bangladeshis, who would not otherwise have access to simple banking services, and helps drive financial inclusion by bringing the poor and unbanked into a regulated financial system. The service is approved by Bangladesh Bank, the central bank of Bangladesh and the overseas fund flow will be processed by BRAC bank as per foreign remittance regulation practice.

Kamal Quadir, Chief Executive Officer, bKash said: “We are excited to launch the new remittance service together with MasterCard and Western Union, who are leaders in their respective fields, allowing people in Bangladesh to receive money into their bKash accounts from their friends and families abroad, 24/7. It brings tremendous value to Bangladeshis living at home and abroad.”

Matthew Driver, group executive, Global Products and Solutions, MasterCard, said: “This relationship is another step towards achieving our global commitment to make the financial system accessible to 500 million more people by 2020. The widespread adoption of mobile phones, not only in Bangladesh but around the world, presents the most exciting opportunity to enable mass adoption of financial services and facilitate financial inclusion. Working with companies such as bKash and Western Union is crucial to taking advantage of the latest technology; digitizing money transfers and supporting financial inclusion efforts in the South Asia region and worldwide. The choice, flexibility and convenience of this new bKash service will help to expand financial inclusion to some of the most remote parts of this thriving nation.”

Jean Claude Farah, EVP & President of Middle East Africa, Asia Pacific, Eastern Europe & CIS, Western Union said: “We are pleased to launch this international mobile money transfer service in collaboration with bKash, BRAC Bank and MasterCard. Western Union’s cross-border platform leverages our technology, regulatory, compliance, and anti-money laundering infrastructure to enable efficient and reliable money movement. Being able to offer international money transfers onto mobile phones accelerates financial inclusion in a nation that has a greater penetration of mobile phones than bank accounts. We are proud to be a fintech player that really understands consumer needs.”

Selim R. F. Hussain, Managing Director & CEO, BRAC Bank Limited, said: “The relationship among bKash, MasterCard, Western Union, and of course BRAC Bank, has allowed remittances to be received literally at the fingertips of our customers. This groundbreaking service helps to receive remittance money right into the mobile wallet of the customers in Bangladesh and it is an example of how local and international collaborations can make a difference to the lives of the Bangladeshi people. At BRAC Bank, we are committed to providing customers with a better experience through innovation. This is just the beginning of our relationship and we look forward to introducing more services for the ease and comfort of our customers.”

* Network data as of 31 December 2015

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