Bangladesh is rapidly advancing in the realm of technology, boasting an impressive internet penetration rate of 60.7%. This digital transformation has paved the way for businesses to thrive, even amidst the challenges posed by the pandemic. As more and more of the younger generation in the country embraces the internet, the demand for goods from overseas is on the rise. This surge presents a significant opportunity for businesses to tap into the global market. To harness this potential, it’s crucial for businesses to streamline international payments and adapt to the ever-evolving landscape. The question then arises: How can online businesses in Bangladesh achieve this? To ride this wave of growth, it’s imperative to keep pace with the times and embrace various online payment methods to boost online sales. Before delving into the top payment methods in Bangladesh, let’s take a closer look at the prevailing trends shaping the country’s payment landscape.
Payment Trends in Bangladesh for 2022:
The payment landscape in Bangladesh has undergone a remarkable transformation with the continuous increase in digital transactions. By 2022, the total transaction value in the digital payments market in Bangladesh is projected to reach $9.83 billion in US dollars.
Bangladesh Bank has raised the daily interbank internet transaction cap, including a substantial five-fold increase for institutional customers. This policy shift has empowered more customers to engage in secure online transactions from the comfort of their homes, expanding the country’s adoption of online banking.
Contactless payments have gained significant traction in Bangladesh, spearheaded by mobile financial services like bKash and Nagad. Reports indicate that 1.85 million new accounts were opened in September 2022, with deposits totaling Tk 14,723.3 crore and withdrawals of Tk 13,895.8 crore.
To cater to the increasing demand and capture a more significant share of the Bangladesh market, Nagad has reduced the withdrawal charge to BDT 9.99 for every BDT 1,000. Moreover, it has introduced cashback promotions for online purchases to attract more customers to its ecosystem.
The “Buy Now, Pay Later” concept is revolutionizing the eCommerce sector, with a projected gradual rise of 12.30% CAGR from 2022 to 2026. These schemes have become more user-friendly, requiring only a few clicks to enable consumers to make interest-free installment payments, enhancing affordability.
These trends are poised to continue shaping the Bangladeshi economy as more consumers become aware of and embrace these opportunities.
Top Payment Methods in Bangladesh:
Bangladesh is quickly catching up with modern payment trends. The onset of the pandemic saw a decline in the use of cash as a payment method, leading to a shift in preference toward more contemporary banking methods. As the pandemic wanes, there is a persistent move to incorporate modern banking solutions. According to a recent report from the World Bank’s Global Findex database, only 50% of the local population has access to bank accounts. Nonetheless, traditional methods like cash and credit cards still play a dominant role in the financial landscape.
Here are some of the most prevalent payment methods in Bangladesh:
The early days of the pandemic brought uncertainty and concerns about visiting ATMs due to the risk of contracting COVID-19. This fear resulted in a decline in the use of cash as a payment method. However, despite the introduction of new payment methods, cash remains one of the most favored payment methods in Bangladesh, accounting for over half of all payments. The transition from cash to cashless and digital alternatives will become more feasible when government regulations promote the use of alternative payment sources.
2. Credit Cards:
March 2022 witnessed an unprecedented surge in credit card transactions in Bangladesh. The total transaction volume increased by 19.15% in February, reaching approximately Tk2,513 crore. Debit card transactions also surged to Tk24,701 crore in January 2022. The festive season and the lifting of travel restrictions contributed to a substantial upswing in credit card sales. The pandemic played a significant role in making credit and debit cards the preferred choice of payment for consumers in Bangladesh. Despite the growing adoption of card payments, they are still less common than in many other parts of the world. In Bangladesh, the two major credit card brands are MasterCard and Visa, with several local card companies offering credit cards, debit cards, and prepaid cards.
3. Bank Transfers:
Mobile banking has experienced remarkable growth in Bangladesh, especially following the pandemic. The digital economy has witnessed a significant shift from cash to cashless digital transactions. With the introduction of new services, there has been a 29% increase in mobile banking transactions. In January 2021, transactions amounted to about Tk57,289 crore, surging to Tk2,210 crore in January 2022. People have grown more comfortable with the convenience and simplicity of transferring money through online banking platforms. Businesses and organizations employ online banking for salary payments and other allowances. According to the Central Bank of Bangladesh, around 13 banks offer mobile banking services to the population.
Notable banks in Bangladesh offering these services include Agrani Bank Limited, Bangladesh Development Bank, BASIC Bank Limited, Janata Bank Limited, Rupali Bank Limited, and Sonali Bank Limited.
Local Digital/Mobile Wallets:
Digital or mobile wallets are instrumental for peer-to-peer transactions and in-store purchases. For online sellers, it is essential to accept local digital wallets. Bangladesh has several local digital wallets in use, including bKash, Sure Cash, Dhaka WASA, and DBBL Mobile Banking. While mobile wallets are gaining popularity, they are still less common than credit cards. To accept digital wallets, businesses need to integrate a payment gateway that processes payments and transfers them to their accounts, ensuring a seamless payment process.
bKash is a widely-used mobile money service in Bangladesh that enables customers to send and receive money using their mobile phones. With over 22% of Bangladesh’s population using this platform, bKash has become one of the most popular mobile money services since its launch in 2010 by BRAC bank. In addition to peer-to-peer money transfers, bKash offers a range of financial services, including airtime top-up, utility bill payment, and mobile banking, significantly impacting financial inclusion and transaction convenience in Bangladesh.
SureCash is a trusted payment system widely used by both businesses and individuals in Bangladesh. It allows users to send and receive money conveniently through their mobile phones. The platform maintains partnerships with more than 41,000 retail agents, 350 payment partners, and several regional banks in Bangladesh, making it a popular and secure payment method.
DBBL Mobile Banking:
Dutch-Bangla Bank Rocket, commonly known as DBBL Mobile Banking, is a leading payment method in Bangladesh. It operates as a state-owned bank without physical branches, focusing on providing banking services to customers, particularly in rural areas. With their mobile app, users can perform various banking activities, including checking account balances, viewing transactions, transferring funds, and more.
iPay is one of the pioneering payment service providers in Bangladesh, offering a comprehensive suite of services for mobile payments. The company aims to create a secure payment ecosystem for individuals and businesses to transact safely. With the iPay mobile wallet, users can send and receive payments, pay for purchases, top up mobile accounts, settle bills, and more. iPay is linked with 57 commercial banks in Bangladesh, ensuring seamless integration for a wide range of transactions.
Payment aggregators like Web Technology Expert assist businesses in integrating their online portals with diverse payment gateways. These platforms enable businesses to accept various local payment methods and currencies, enhancing the checkout experience for customers. Web Technology Expert, for example, is a cost-effective, user-friendly platform that is PCI compliant, ensuring the security of every transaction. It supports over 300 international payment methods from countries worldwide, including Bangladesh and Southeast Asia.
By leveraging such payment aggregators, businesses can streamline their payment processes, improve checkout conversion rates, and scale their operations without the complexities of integrating multiple payment gateways. In the rapidly evolving landscape of payments, these platforms empower businesses to meet the diverse preferences of their customers and stay ahead in the competitive online market.
So, whether you’re a local business or eyeing the global market, embracing these payment methods in Bangladesh is key to your success. With the right tools and partners, you can navigate the dynamic payment landscape and ensure a seamless experience for your customers.