Bangladesh is one of the most populated countries in the world, 164.7 million people (2017 estimates). The country has struggled with poverty, a factor that has led to many Bangladesh nationals to move to other countries. The estimated population of Bangladeshi diaspora is 7.5 million.
In 2018, Bangladesh ranked the ninth highest recipient of remittances according to a World Bank report. The Bangladeshi diaspora sent home $15.9 billion. This record inflow made Bangladesh the third-highest recipient in South Asia after India($79.5 billion) and Pakistan ($20.9 billion).
Bangladeshis overseas, many of whom live in Saudi Arabia (1,005,000), United Arab Emirates (700,000), and the United Kingdom (450,000), have been using different methods to send money home. Not all of these methods are efficient, cost-effective or safe.
The sections below will help you know the different ways of sending money to Bangladesh, the information required to send and receive, the benefits of using money transfer services and the specific things to look at when sending to Bangladesh.
Sending money to Bangladesh is simple and easy. Follow these steps to get started.
There are multiple ways to easily send and receive money in Bangladesh but these will largely depend on the provider you decide to use. Below you will find everything you need to know about sending and receiving money.
The Bangladeshi diaspora has been using both formal and informal methods to send money home. Banks are the dominant players with a 2010 International Organization for Migration (IOM) report showing that 74 per cent of recorded remittances came through the banking system.
Money transfer service providers have also been gaining ground in the different remittance corridors to Bangladesh. In September 2011, the central bank of Bangladesh (Bangladesh Bank) issued guidelines on Mobile Financial Services for Banks. This move added another legal layer to the existing Money Laundering Prevention Act 2002 and the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act of 1947.
As it stands today, the following are the formal ways of sending money to Bangladesh as authorised by the Bangladesh Bank.
The banking industry in Bangladesh comprises state-owned banks, private commercial banks and foreign-controlled banks giving a total of 59 scheduled banking institutions. According to the 2017 Global Findex report, 65 per cent of adult males and 35 per cent of adult females have bank accounts. This improvement means that many of them can receive bank transfers directly to their accounts.
Starting in June 2018, banks in Bangladesh were able to transact faster on the internet through online banking. However, to go down this route, banks have to register on the National Payment Switch Bangladesh (NPSB) managed by the Bangladesh Bank.
The time it takes to send through wire transfers depends on the source country. It can take anywhere between 2 to 7 business days. The cost of sending money through bank-to-bank wire transfers can also be prohibitive because of intermediary banks.
Money transfers from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries to Bangladesh have traditionally been through banks. However, money transfer service providers such as MoneyGram, Western Union, Xpress Money, TeeMoney, Xoom, WorldRemit, TransferWise and others, are now becoming dominant.
These providers guarantee fast, cost-effective, and secure transfers to Bangladesh. Signing up for transfer accounts is very simple and fast. You’ll need your name, email address and phone number to register an account. Once set up, you can pay for your transfer using a debit, credit card, bank transfer or bank debit.
Most of the providers allow you to send money through their websites and downloadable mobile apps. You can also deposit money from a store and send your loved ones. Western Union allows you to start the process online and complete it from a store.
The following are the options you have for sending money through money transfer operators (MTOs).
Bank Transfer – You can send money through the MTO-to-bank platform. This method is the perfect alternative to bank-to-bank transfers. It is faster, more secure and less costly. TransferWise officially launched transfers to Bangladesh Taka (BDT) on May 2016. It takes anywhere from 2 to 3 days for most transfers from providers such as WorldRemit, Xpress Money, Xoom, Western Union and MoneyGram to reach Bangladesh.
Cash Pickup – This is one of the most preferred ways of sending money to Bangladesh. Every provider has a payout-network that brings together agents you can send money for collection. For instance, Worldremit works with Bangladesh banks such as Dutch Bangla Bank, Brac Bank, Social Islami Bank, Agrani Bank, Bank Asia and many others. Xoom has 6,100 locations all over the country you can send your loved ones money for pick up. The money gets delivered in minutes or under an hour.
Mobile Money – The convenience that comes with transfers directly to mobile phones is unbeatable. Even people in rural Bangladesh with no access to formal banking services can receive money on their mobiles. WorldRemit is connected with mobile financial services such as bKash and Rocket to help you send money swiftly to your family back at home.
In July 2019, Padma Bank signed an agreement with Transfast to allow Bangladeshis abroad to send money home through the bank’s 57 branches. If you are a first-timer, some providers may give you discounts or cost-free sending offers.
With the various ways of sending money as seen above, each provider has its requirements. There is some information you will be requested to provide to ensure a smooth transfer to your loved ones.
You may be asked to provide more information if the amount you are sending or the frequency proves suspicious to the authorities. However, this is very rare.
Most providers give you a transaction reference number or PIN to help you track or query your transaction online. When you receive this number, send it to your loved ones as they will need it to complete the transaction. The following are the main ways your loved ones in Bangladesh can receive the money you’ve sent them.
If the recipient has a bank account, they can opt to receive money through a direct bank deposit. This method is safer and convenient for large amounts of money. With online banking in place, your loved ones should receive an SMS notification when the deposit gets credited. The direct deposit could be from an MTO or another bank in the diaspora.
Most providers have invested in strategic partnerships with banks and other institutions to bring agencies closer to the people. Whether you are in Rangpur in the north or Chittagong in the southeastern coast of Bangladesh, you’ll find an agent near you. This method of receiving money works well in rural areas where most people are far from formal banking services.
Because of security reasons, it is advisable that the recipient tags a friend along or a trusted relative.
In October 2017, Dutch-Bangla Bank and WorldRemit struck an agreement that would enable Bangladeshis to receive instant transfers from their loved ones abroad through Rocket mobile money. Data from Bangladesh Bank shows that 53.7 million Bangladeshis had mobile money accounts as of June 2017.
Following in the footsteps of Dutch-Bangla Bank, BRAC Bank also partnered with Worldremit in November 2018. This partnership enabled the 30 million bKash mobile money subscribers to receive money directly into their wallets from their loved ones abroad.
Receiving money in Bangladesh is a straight forward process. Most providers will notify the recipient by SMS or email that they’ve got cash. Depending on the provider, they’ll be required to carry along some information to help verify their identity and complete the transaction. The following is a general list of what is needed.
Other providers may require full disclosure of the source and purpose of the remittance. This measure helps in combatting fraud and money laundering.
A study looking at 84 migrant households in Bangladesh shows that loan repayment, household consumption, investment, exchange rate leverage, and social contributions are some of the common reasons for remittances to Bangladesh.
Over 50 per cent of remittances to Bangladesh targets low-income households mostly in rural areas. The money received helps in supplementing household income and buying necessities such as food.
The process of relocating abroad is usually an expensive endeavour. Family members and friends give their contributions to ensure a successful journey and resettlement abroad. Part of the remittances back home are used to offset debts and other credit strains. Some of the debts could be historical, taken during times of hardship.
Some of the Bangladeshi abroad may have intentions of coming back home permanently someday. Investments are intended to create a soft landing for such migrants and to give their families a reliable source of income in case remittances fail. Investments could be in real estate, financial assets or business.
Education in Bangladesh is free and compulsory for the first 12 years of learning. That said, private learning institutions usually give a much better quality of education than the public system. This phenomenon makes Bangladeshis in the diaspora to send money home to help their families access quality private school education.
Apart from mainstream reasons, there are social reasons for sending money home. Festivals such as Eid-Ul-Fitr, Eid-Ul-Azha, Pahela Baishakh, and Durga Puja involve expenditures often financed through remittances. Weddings and social development initiatives are also some of the reasons diaspora Bangladeshis send money home.
There is a gradual shift in allegiance from banks to money transfer service providers for the millions of Bangladeshi diaspora. There are many reasons for this phenomenon. Some of them include:
When sending money to your loved ones in Bangladesh, there are considerations you have to make. Some of them are:
With all the incentives in place, various channels of sending money, and the minimal requirements to send and receive money in Bangladesh, there is no reason why you should not take the advantage to build your investments and care for your loved ones.
Sending money anywhere else in the world is as easy as sending money to Bangladesh. If you’re looking to send money to another country, here is the list of the most popular destinations.
Jonathan is the founder and editor of MoneyTransfers.com. Jonathan is highly experienced in the currency transfer market, having previously worked in the FX trading industry, alongside being an avid traveller. Using his knowledge he identified a need for transparency and further education to help people save money on their money transfers, leading to the creation of MoneyTransfers.com