SoftBank Vision Fund 2 invests in Bangladeshi mobile financial service bKash

Dhaka, Bangladesh. Photo by Ahmed Hasan on Unsplash

Bangladesh-based mobile financial services provider bKash has secured an equity investment from SoftBank Vision Fund 2 as it seeks to promote financial inclusion by building a digital ecosystem in the developing country.

SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2 will be acquiring a 20% stake on a fully diluted basis in the company, a company spokesperson told DealStreetAsia.

bKash founder and CEO Kamal Quadir believes that the latest investment paves the way for global investment for other entrepreneurs and innovators of Bangladesh.

The deal comes three years after Ant Financial, a unit of Alibaba’s payment arm Alipay, acquired a 20% stake in bKash in 2018. At the time, Ant Financial and bKash also announced a strategic partnership to promote financial inclusion for the unbanked and underbanked communities in Bangladesh.

bKash’s other strategic partners include International Finance Corporation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Launched in 2011 by founding shareholders BRAC Bank Limited and Money in Motion LLC, bKash now provides a range of mobile financial services to 56 million registered customers.

Tech in focus

Bangladeshi tech startups have been seeing a lot of investor interest and deal activity in recent months. In a significant deal that DealStreetAsia first reported, Bangladesh-based business-to-business commerce startup ShopUp last month raised $75 million in a Series B round led by Valar Ventures. ShopUp, which is focused on digitalising mom-and-pop shops in the country, raised funds from Prosus Ventures, formerly Naspers Ventures, and existing investors Flourish Ventures, Sequoia Capital India, and VEON Ventures.

Another recent deal in the tech startup space this year featured Chaldal, one of Bangladesh’s largest grocery e-commerce platforms, which raised $10 million in a Series C funding round led by Taavet Hinrikus, co-founder of London-based payment company Wise.

In other deals this year, logistics startup Truck Lagbe, raised $4 million in its Series A round led by IFC while public transportation platform Jatri raised $1.2 million in a pre-Series A funding round. And, Data Bird, the company behind online travel platform ShareTrip and communications app Ridmik Keyboard, raised a $3-million bridge round from global internet and software investor Skycatcher.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.