Bangladesh: An Unexpected Source of Branchless Banking Innovation?
The Bangladesh Post Office has for some time been playing an important role in providing access to financial services in rural and remote areas of Bangladesh. With an extremely large and far-reaching network of 2,000 post offices and 8,500 rural outlets, Bangladesh Post has offered remittance services, savings accounts, and life insurance schemes.
In 2010, the Post embarked on an ambitious drive to develop and provide innovative digital financial services, and launched a new Mobile Money Order Service and Postal Cash Card in 2010, as well as a Mobile Banking Service at the end of 2012. These new services, targeted primarily at the unbanked population in rural and remote areas, have already enjoyed considerable success. To date, the Post Office has issued over 11 million mobile money orders, worth US$ 7 million, and the Postal Cash Card has built a customer base of 52,000 card-holders, many of whom live in rural areas. The case of Bangladesh Post therefore shows that with the right approach, postal operators can innovate successfully, and as a result, make a meaningful contribution to financial inclusion.
This case study is one of a series of studies undertaken by the Universal Postal Union to showcase best practices in postal financial inclusion. This study illustrates the business model adopted by Bangladesh Post to offer digital financial services, and provides lessons for other postal operators seeking to digitise their financial services in order to better reach the unbanked population.