Bangladesh’s Mobile Financial Services industry is heating up as more and more people have started to use the service. Upay is one of the new entrants aiming to get a pie of Bangladesh’s growing MFS market size by competing with big players like bKash, Rocket, and Nagad.
Upay has been launched by UCB Fintech Company Limited, a United Commercial Bank Limited subsidiary. The company was incorporated on July 30, 2020, and the journey of Upay started in 2021. This article will go through how the company did in 2021.
Like other mobile financial services companies, Upay provides mobile transactions (cash-in, cash-out, send money, etc.), utility bill payment, in-store, and e-commerce payment, inward remittance, salary disbursement, etc.
In 2021, Upay had acquired 3.9 Mn customers and had created a distribution network of 195 distribution houses and around 106,000 agents. As a new player, creating a distribution and agent network is the most important thing to reach out to potential customers, and the company has done better than expected in agent acquisition as bkash, the most significant market player in the industry, has about 294,700 agents (Till H2’22).
However, it’s to mention that the industry distribution network has already been established in the country for the likes of bKash (starting in 2011) and other MFS players. In other words, although current players like the pioneer of the industry-bKash have paved the way and educated the stakeholders of the MFS distribution channel, Upay has capitalized on walking on the path pretty fast.
In 2021, 13.2 Mn transactions were recorded on Upay’s platform generating a total transaction amount of Tk 30.7 Bn. Upay generated revenue of Tk 174.2 Mn in 2021, of which Tk 171.6 Mn (98.5%) came from cash out & others segment, and Tk 2.6 Mn (1.5%) came from Airtime top-up. Gross Profit was Tk 12.7 Mn (Gross Profit Margin: 7.3%) as cost of services was Tk 161.5 Mn.
Upay incurred an Operating Loss of 1,138.3 Mn in 2021 as it had to invest heavily in General & Administrative Expenses (Tk 366.0 Mn) and Selling & Marketing (Tk 785.0 Mn).
It is still early to compare Upay with the established players like bkash and Nagad, as it just had its first year of operation. The MFS market is highly competitive with three big players like bkash. Rocket and Nagad due to price-sensitive customers and low-margin products.
Hence Upay needs to invest heavily in technology and marketing to acquire customers from the big players. As let’s face it, the industry has shifted from sole transaction to innovative customer solutions and in an industry like that, there is no alternative to blending big data with modern-day technology.
It would be interesting to see how the company does in the coming 2-3 years to compete in this market. What’s your thought on Upay’s first year in operation? Do you have any suggestions? Comment below and for more updates, be with Markedium.