By 2015, Bangladesh already had begun to experiment with digitizing government-to-person payments. Several social safety net programs, among the more than 100 in place, were experimenting with various digital payment approaches—often through a customized arrangement with a single vendor or provider. Access to Information (A2i) is a cross-government agency that seeks to improve government services to citizens. Along with the digitization efforts that were already taking shape, A2i saw that more benefits could be gained if government programs shared and used a unified government payments platform that would consolidate and simplify delivery for both government programs and their citizens. In early 2016, A2i partnered with CGAP, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Better Than Cash Alliance, and Price Waterhouse Coopers to conduct a deep as-is context assessment. Based on this assessment, the partners set out to create a detailed systems design process that leveraged the existing payments infrastructure, identified trade-offs and reaffirmed the core goals of A2i’s vision of building a more inclusive digital payments system. As implementation progressed, A2i revisited the design, made adjustments, and brought in other government departments, while remaining focused on its ambitious long-term vision. By February 2019, A2i had connected key elements of the system and was well into piloting different aspects of the overall architecture.

Read More