WHILE Myanmar is still a cash-dominated society, the nation’s three telecommunications operators are trying to change that as they vie for the lead in the country’s nascent mobile financial market.
Vikram Sinha, acting CEO of Ooredoo Myanmar, announced on Thursday the launch of M-Pitesan, a product that allows mobile users to enjoy instant money transfers and efficient payment options via their smartphones.
“It will help us achieve our goal of bringing all Myanmar citizens closer to this better future,” he said. “Together with our deep distribution network and first-class customer service, M-Pitesan will help spur growth in this rapidly changing country, include more people into Myanmar’s financial system, and move us closer to our vision of supporting a truly cashless society in Myanmar.”
“There is real appetite for mobile money services in Myanmar. I am confident that M-Pitesan will give customer’s access to the digital financial services they have been asking us for, supporting their increasingly digital lifestyles.”
Nearly 10 million Ooredoo subscribers can now transfer or receive money through 2,400 agents in Yangon, Naypyitaw, Mandalay, Bago and Taunggyi. The firm plans to cooperate with more than 10,000 agents who provide deposit, withdrawal and money transfer services over the next three months.
“We have big plans for M-Pitesan and in the months to come will be expanding the service to include additional functionality for customers, banks and businesses alike,” Sinha said.
Jacques Voogt, chief m-commerce officer at Ooredoo Myanmar, said the service would ensure easy access and 24-hour customer support for mobile users who urgently need to transfer or receive money.
He said other features including QR code payments for goods and services, and bill payments for utilities and municipal services, would be introduced soon.
He claims that Ooredoo’s offering is the only mobile money service provider in Myanmar that offers real-time tracking between users’ bank accounts and mobile wallets, allowing customers to enjoy seamless wallet-to-bank deposits. The firm has partnered with CB Bank and Reddot over the past months to provide the service.
“Other providers have done very well in laying a good foundation that we can work with. We are going to make a difference when we come to financial services business in the country,” Voogt said.
“To be able to be successful, we need to make sure that we never lose a transaction, never drop a kyat, and never ever lose any money.”
According to Voogt, cash is the biggest enemy, and building trust poses another obstacle for the firm. He said it would take a long time to educate people about the benefits of using mobile money. Yet, he hopes to achieve at least 500,000 customers by the end of this year.
Rozano Planta, head of MPT Mobile Money, said the firm would launch its mobile financial services soon.
“Through its wide network of retail outlets and points of sale, we aim to make the service accessible nationwide. We will ensure our service reaches everywhere in Myanmar,” he said. MPT leads the market with over 23 million users and the widest mobile network coverage of 96 per cent throughout Myanmar.
Lars Erik Tellmann, CEO of Telenor Myanmar, takes pride in saying that his company provided mobile financial services a year earlier than its major rivals. The firm launched the service with its partner, Wave Money, in October 2016.
“Today, we have over half a million customers who regularly do over-the-counter transactions. We are happy that MPT and Ooredoo are bringing more attention to mobile financial services because it will need a lot of trust,” he said. “We welcome Ooredoo and MPT as they are following us in this area,” he said at a press conference on the firm’s third anniversary.
The telecommunications company has more than 8,000 sites, and has a population coverage of around 90 per cent, which is ahead of its plan. Its 4G network covers 28 cities across the country and will continue to roll out, he added.