Bangladesh has a high prevalence of mobile money account use, according to a recent survey report published by the GSM Association, which represents the interests of mobile network operators worldwide.
In 2021, 30 of % Bangladeshi adults aged 15 and above used mobile money accounts for saving, 15% to pay insurance premiums and 14% to get a loan.
When compared with pre-pandemic times, 32% adults more frequently used mobile money accounts for savings and 22% with no change in frequency.
When it comes to getting a loan, it was 35% more frequent than what was before Covid-19, while the use of mobile money accounts was 38% more in paying insurance premiums.
Since 2012, the GSMA Mobile Money programme has collected and analysed data from mobile money services worldwide.
GSMA has developed the Mobile Money Prevalence Index (MMPI) to provide additional insights on the state of mobile money for the mobile money and tech industries, academia and international organisations, while protecting industry data.
On this index, Bangladesh's overall score was between 0.60 and 0.79 for prevalence of mobile money which was categorised 'High'.
On this scale, South Asian country India scored less than 0.19 which was categorised 'very low' with Egypt and Pakistan in the medium category, scoring between 0.40 and 0.59.
African countries Senegal and Kenya were placed on the 'very high' category, with score more than 0.80 on the MMPI.
Financial inclusion for women
Mobile money has been a driving force for financial inclusion for the world's most vulnerable, particularly women.
In Bangladesh, for instance, women's account ownership nearly doubled between 2018 and 2021 from 11% to 20%, whereas the increase for men was from 26% to 41%.
But in 2021, nationally 41% of adult males had mobile money account ownerships, while it was 20% for females. The gender gap is 52%.
Gender gap between rural male and women for mobile money account ownership is 54%.
With the gender gap in mobile money account ownership ranging from 7% in Kenya to 71% in Pakistan – there remain some barriers to vulnerable people benefitting from mobile money.
Across all eight survey countries, Bangladeshi women are more likely to receive money rather than sending it, said the report.
The report said, "Owning a mobile phone is an important prerequisite to mobile money use, but there is a persistent gender gap in mobile ownership. Women across low- and medium- income countries are 7% less likely than men to own a mobile phone.
"Overall, 143 million fewer women own a mobile phone than men. Additional barriers to mobile money access include a lack of awareness of mobile money and a deficit in perceived relevance, knowledge and skills."
In Bangladesh, 84% of men and 65% of women own mobile phones.
The largest gender gaps in mobile money account ownership are in the South Asian survey countries, as observed in Pakistan (71%), India (68%) and Bangladesh (52%).
Mobile money has grown 10 times in 10 years
Mobile money hit a new milestone last year as the value of transactions processed globally surpassed $1 trillion for the first time.
Even though the Covid-19 pandemic had a negative impact on most economic sectors that require physical interaction, the number of mobile money agents has continued to rise.
In 2021, the number of registered accounts reached 1.35 billion globally, up 18% since last year and 10 times more than there were in 2012 (134 million)
Also, the number of active agents multiplied more than 10 times, from 534,000 to 5.6 million during the same time.
According to GSMA, which has released 10 consecutive annual reports, there were 316 mobile money services in 98 countries last year, compared to 169 in 71 countries in 2012.