Mobile money services booming in Myanmar

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The absence of an inclusive banking branch network in Myanmar and notoriously complicated and slow banking account transmissions have led to strong acceptance of mobile money solutions in a country where 80 per cent of the population are still unbanked.

The advent of two new mobile phone operators, Ooredoo and Telenor, and the subsequent boom of startups developing mobile payment solutions have led to some sort of digital revolution that fundamentally changed the way Myanmar people are dealing with money.

Smartphone penetration in Myanmar, based on current estimates, is now between 70 and 80 per cent of total mobile devices penetration in the country (currently around 50 per cent), which brings a rapid proliferation of data usage. Coupled with the very low banking penetration, it considerably enhances the opportunities for serving the unbanked digitally, while Myanmar migrant workers abroad are also increasingly getting fond of the new method.

Among the startups serving this segment is Wave Money, launched by Telenor together with First Myanmar Investments Group and Yoma Bank. The company said some 250,000 people have used its service in the first six months after launch in November last year, and it should become available for shopping at stores later this year. 

Ooredoo is teaming up with Myanmar’s Co-operative Bank to set up a mobile money business called M-Pitesan (Pitesan means money in Burmese). The company plans to launch the service as soon as it obtains approval from the central bank.

Incumbent operator Myanma Posts and Telecommunications partnered with Japan’s KDDI Corp. and Sumitomo Corp., a telecommunications company and a trading house, and is in talks with major local banks to enter the mobile money market which could be launched later this year.

Another newcomer is Ongo Mobile Money, a private startup which just sold a 22-per cent stake in its holding company to the National Bank of Canada and has set itself a goal of providing over one million consumers with access to finance over the next three years.

Competitors include OK Dollar, which launched last year as a brand of Super Group, a logistics and hotel conglomerate in Myanmar, and reportedly has already more than 100,000 users, as well as brands such as MyPay, EasyPay, 1-Stop, 2C2P, MyanPay and Thailand’s TrueMoney, Alibaba’s Alipay has also said it wants to expand to Myanmar.

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The absence of an inclusive banking branch network in Myanmar and notoriously complicated and slow banking account transmissions have led to strong acceptance of mobile money solutions in a country where 80 per cent of the population are still unbanked. The advent of two new mobile phone operators, Ooredoo and Telenor, and the subsequent boom of startups developing mobile payment solutions have led to some sort of digital revolution that fundamentally changed the way Myanmar people are dealing with money. Smartphone penetration in Myanmar, based on current estimates, is now between 70 and 80 per cent of total mobile devices...

Reading Time: 2 minutes

The absence of an inclusive banking branch network in Myanmar and notoriously complicated and slow banking account transmissions have led to strong acceptance of mobile money solutions in a country where 80 per cent of the population are still unbanked.

The advent of two new mobile phone operators, Ooredoo and Telenor, and the subsequent boom of startups developing mobile payment solutions have led to some sort of digital revolution that fundamentally changed the way Myanmar people are dealing with money.

Smartphone penetration in Myanmar, based on current estimates, is now between 70 and 80 per cent of total mobile devices penetration in the country (currently around 50 per cent), which brings a rapid proliferation of data usage. Coupled with the very low banking penetration, it considerably enhances the opportunities for serving the unbanked digitally, while Myanmar migrant workers abroad are also increasingly getting fond of the new method.

Among the startups serving this segment is Wave Money, launched by Telenor together with First Myanmar Investments Group and Yoma Bank. The company said some 250,000 people have used its service in the first six months after launch in November last year, and it should become available for shopping at stores later this year. 

Ooredoo is teaming up with Myanmar’s Co-operative Bank to set up a mobile money business called M-Pitesan (Pitesan means money in Burmese). The company plans to launch the service as soon as it obtains approval from the central bank.

Incumbent operator Myanma Posts and Telecommunications partnered with Japan’s KDDI Corp. and Sumitomo Corp., a telecommunications company and a trading house, and is in talks with major local banks to enter the mobile money market which could be launched later this year.

Another newcomer is Ongo Mobile Money, a private startup which just sold a 22-per cent stake in its holding company to the National Bank of Canada and has set itself a goal of providing over one million consumers with access to finance over the next three years.

Competitors include OK Dollar, which launched last year as a brand of Super Group, a logistics and hotel conglomerate in Myanmar, and reportedly has already more than 100,000 users, as well as brands such as MyPay, EasyPay, 1-Stop, 2C2P, MyanPay and Thailand’s TrueMoney, Alibaba’s Alipay has also said it wants to expand to Myanmar.

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