LIRNEasia is a regional ICT policy and regulation think tank active across the Asia Pacific

Challenges of mobile financial services in Myanmar

We have not worked on mobile money in Myanmar. But now that mobile penetration is quite high, time is ripe for mobile financial services. Here is a description of the challenges:

The biggest challenge for anyone in this business is the distribution network. Myanmar is such a big country. We’re now in about 70% of townships around the country – to get around and actually see where our outlets are, it’s a lot of travel. We are in some extremely remote places. We’re in Kachin state, we’re in Chin state, we’re in Rakhine State. Anyone can go and roll this out in Yangon and Mandalay, that’s easy. But pushing this out where the people really need the service – that’s not so easy. And even areas like Chin, we’re finding it very tough because of the terrain.

Secondly, trust is a big issue – predominantly because the Myanmar consumers have had such a bad experience with the banking system over the last 60 or 70 years. There’s been three demonetisations, the last monetisation was only in the 1980s. The last banking failure was in 2003. So, the average Myanmar person has vivid memories of losing their money. The trust level in the banking system is quite low, though we certainly don’t market ourselves as a bank – and legally, we’re not allowed to.

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