Primary Education Stipends in Bangladesh: Do Mothers Prefer Digital Payments over Cash?

Bangladesh, a country of 165 million people bordering India and Myanmar, is undergoing a rapid economic and social transformation. It has experienced steady economic growth over the last decade driven mostly by readymade garments exports and remittances from a large expatriate community across the world. Bangladesh is a relatively young country with a median age of 26.3 years. Its investment and outcomes in human capital, especially school education and primary healthcare, have been globally recognized. Bangladesh is urbanizing at a rapid rate, integrating into global supply chains; it aspires to join the ranks of middle-income countries over the next decade.

Bangladesh is also witnessing a digital revolution. The mobile subscriber base has grown to over 140 million, covering nearly 85 percent of the population. Leveraging this, the mobile financial services (MFS) sector has shown remarkable growth over the last decade and has been instrumental in the transformation of the digital payments ecosystem in the country. The MFS sector plays a key role in supporting the government’s policy to transfer benefits digitally instead of cash payments. One of the most significant applications is the Primary Education Stipend Program (PESP).