Bangladesh’s ShopUp shows the possibilities for frontier fintech
The vast majority of Bangladesh’s consumer economy happens through small shops shackled by logistics, scale and access to capital. ShopUp aims to bring some of the fintech and financial inclusion principles we have seen elsewhere to this highly populated and fast-growing country.
You’ve heard of Grab, GoJek, Paytm, Ant – e-commerce companies that have moved into financial services to shake up the established order of Asia’s largest economies and population centres. Now attention is turning to their equivalents in frontier markets. The latest to capture the mood – and international investment capital – can be found in Bangladesh.
ShopUp calls itself a full-stack e-commerce platform for “neighbourhood mom and pop shops”. What this means is that it serves Bangladesh stores in three ways: through an e-commerce app linking wholesale distributors and retailers; through logistical support in getting goods where they need to be; and through embedded financial services, with a buy-now, pay-later model.
If you look at Bangladesh, it’s the fastest-growing economy in Asia right now
This is an important role in any country, but far more so in a place like Bangladesh. “If you look at Bangladesh, it’s the fastest-growing economy in Asia right now,” says Afeef Zaman, ShopUp’s founder and chief executive. “But if you zoom in a little bit, 98% of the entire country’s consumption happens through these small neighbourhood mom and pop shops.