BAT required a solution to enable it to pay casual/substitute workers, traditionally paid in physical cash. The company worked with its banking partner and now uses a solution which involves mobile wallets which enables BAT to pay its workers through mobile banking.
Photo of Ajay Kumar Jain, Standard Chartered, Nicholas Brunton and Khaled Rahmen, BAT Bangladesh Co Ltd.
Senior Corporate Finance Manager
British American Tobacco Bangladesh (BATB) is a part of BAT plc, the world’s leading tobacco group, with brands sold in 200 markets around the world. The company is stock exchange enlisted, managing a diversified portfolio of shareholders (various government institutions and independent shareholders). BATB is proud to be one of the most preferred employers of the country by employing more than 1,500 people directly and approximately 52,000 people indirectly as farmers, distributors and local suppliers. The company has been recognised many times across the boundaries for its contribution to the national economy, excellent corporate governance and corporate social responsibility.
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Clever cashless solution makes big impact on workers in Bangladesh
BATB operates the biggest factory in the group which runs 24/7 and there are different types of workers employed in the factory. One type is badli (casual/substitute) workers who work on a daily basis, replacing the absent permanent workers. As per the law the badli workers need to be paid daily in cash. If possible, and in compliance with the law, BATB wanted to eliminate the administrative challenges and physical cash handling.
The solution, provided by Standard Chartered, involves mobile wallets, enabling BATB to pay the casual workers through mobile banking.
The solution uses the mobile wallets being provided by mobile financial service (MFS) providers in the country. Bangladesh has one of the fastest growing mobile wallet markets which are being driven by technical innovation and collaboration between MFS providers, telecoms companies and banks.
Best practice and innovation
While some banks have developed their own mobile wallet services, Standard Chartered has partnered with the leading MFS provider in the country to provide access to the MFS’s growing customer base through the bank’s Straight2Bank platform. For BATB the payment process is the same as other bank to bank electronic payments.
“The product called Straight2Bank Wallet provides access to the unbanked population of the country like the badli workers who can now be paid through a secure banking channel, thus making the solution cashless,” explains Khaled Rahman, Senior Corporate Finance Manager.
“The solution uses innovation in technology across industries (banking and MFS) to replace a physical cash based process with a cashless solution which was crucial for BATB for a change management project. It feels great when it is acknowledged, particularly by the Adam Smith Awards Asia – the best treasury product contest in Asia Pacific! Winning among so many quality participants encourages us to venture for new treasury initiatives in future.”
This is a unique innovation in Bangladesh using the online banking platform to use the MFS service.
Rahman concludes, “From our perspective the banking activities including this cash disbursement to badli workers through MFS are under one single banking platform which ensures uniform banking activities with proper control, compliance and security.”
BATB was quick to identify the benefits of this solution and was one of the early adopters.
By using Straight2Bank Wallet the daily payments to badli workers are now paid electronically into their mobile wallets. There is no further need to handle cash.
BATB had to operate a cash counter at the factory premises which is no longer required.
With the elimination of cash there is no longer any security concern for both BATB and the workers.
Single point of reconciliation through BATB’s account statement instead of manual reconciliation requirements under the cash payment process.
Straight through processing
The end-to-end payment process is automated, as Standard Chartered has integrated with the MFS’s system.
Single point of contact
Transaction origination, tracking and reconciliation is done through Standard Chartered’s Straight2Bank platform.
Same day disbursement to workers
Payments to the workers wallets can be made same day which is a key requirement under the law.
No queues for the workers
After an eight-hour shift the workers no longer have to wait in a queue to collect their payments.
Downstream benefits for workers
By having the payment sent directly to the workers’ mobile wallets, they can choose to either cash out the money or use the other MFS services for their individual benefit.