Main trends

The mobile phone sector in Bangladesh is witnessing a massive change in terms of usage of applications and services. The majority of this usage is based on lifestyle choices. Primarily focused on entertainment, the mobile Internet users are using Grameenphone Music, Banglalink Vibe and Gaan (songs) for music while Youtube, Netflix, Iflix and Bioscope for video-based content. But Facebook is the predominant choice for social media interactions followed by Instagram. The social impact of Facebook is remarkable as this platform is widely used for various purposes from an individual level to the public sphere. The movements for reforming the quota system in government jobs and ensuring career paths for the young generation were mobilised manly through mobile phones and Facebook. During the movements, the social platform was flooded with photos, videos and comments by the demonstrators and others that helped building public support for the movements.

Bangladeshis tend to use almost all the available messaging apps. Facebook messenger is on top of the list, used by a cross-section of people for instant chatting, audio-video calls and for the sharing of photos and videos. However, other apps like Whatsapp, Viber, Imo, Snapchat and Telegram are also entering the market. An increasing number of educated and young users are shifting to encrypted apps like Whatsapp, Viber and Telegram for privacy. On the other hand, many people in rural areas use Imo for long-distance calls.

The country has experienced a dramatic growth in the expansion of Mobile Financial Service (MFS) within a few years since its formal introduction in 2011. The services have gained significant popularity because of their ease of usage, particularly facilitating the unbanked and financially excluded segment of the population. Shortly thereafter, a cross-section of people started availing these services offering easy transactions through mobile phones. Most popular among these services are bKash of Brac Bank and Rocket of Dutch Bangla Bank. Following the success of these initiatives, more companies are looking forward to introduce similar services. Of them, Nagad (Cash) is set to start and will be run by Bangladesh Post Office in partnership with Third Wave Technologies, a software developer, under a public-private partnership model. Nagad is expected to spread the banking service further through nearly 10,000 post offices dotted across the country. This is going to be possible due to mobile phone networks.

As of September 2018, over 60 million people have registered for such services provided by 18 banks and the average daily transaction reaches US$10bn, according to the Bangladesh Bank. Most people use bKash either by visiting a nearby shop or accessing their accounts via mobile phones. More and more people are opting for transactions through their own accounts. In April 2018, bKash introduced an app that allows one to transact online. Using this app, Bangladeshi migrant workers can send money home via Western Union and Exchange House.