Grameen Phone now provides a range of services which go way beyond the traditional scope of a mobile carrier. One of the most popular is BillPay. Paying a utility bill in Bangladesh, and many emerging companies, is an arduous business involving hours of queueing to pay the bill and then queueing again to confirm that the money was received by the utility.
BillPay allows instant payment via mobile. Islam told me that a surprising side effect is that “people are voluntarily going and paying. Before people would put it off. From the government side their revenue went up significantly.”
Buying a train ticket used to take a whole day. Now 50 percent of all train tickets are sold through mobile services and a huge number of tickets can be sold in a matter of hours. Grameenphone also provides a hotline where farmers can get advice on problems with their crops. “60 percent of our employment is agri-based. If your crop is infected, for example, you have no way of finding out what is really happening. You can make a phone call and describe. You can take a photo on a mobile phone and send it in an MMS”.