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Tuesday 3rd August 2021 09:36 AM

A Brief Outlook on Myanmar Digital Payments Proliferation


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Myanmar has a unique political history especially after the independence from the British in 1948. The democratic government did not last very long, in fact many ethnic armed groups came into existence in the same year. The long standing civil war did directly affect the economy of Myanmar. In spite of the political turmoil, Myanmar maintained its Kyat (Myanmar Currency) value one of the highest value in the region.


The downfall began in 1962 after fourteen years of democratic constitution, when the military took over the government and ruled Myanmar for 26 years straight. The currency value hit its lowest bottom pit and remains as one of the most inflated money in the region until today.  [1] The inflation rate in Myanmar was recorded at 9.45 percent in December of 2019. Myanmar Inflation Rate - values, historical data and charts - was last updated in March of 2020.  [2] But for 2020, Asia Development Bank (ADB) forecasts the inflation rate at 7.5 percent for Myanmar.  [3]




The military dictatorship ceased in 1988, and another form of military government continued to lead the country. Some private banks were allowed to operate, but the financial sector was clamped with sanctions from the West.


In 2010, another political transition occurred when the so-called new democratic government was formed with the 2008 Constitution. From that point, the financial sector began to open up to more opportunities.


Within less than a decade, Myanmar has emerged from isolation to become one of the new global investment destinations. The new government is more open to foreign investments including the financial sector. With a vast majority of the young population and growing number of the middle class, the country’s GDP growth is above 6.5 percent in recent years with the forecasted growth at 6.8 percent in 2020.  [4]




Whilst it has become one of the most prominent emerging economies in Southeast Asia, more than half of the adult population still have no formal access to digital financing services either through banks or other regulated financial institutions. In 2017, VISA launched a nationwide survey called “the Visa Consumer Payment Attitudes Survey." The in-depth study examines the perceptions, attitudes and behaviors Myanmar people have towards payment and emerging payment methods. The main goal is to help the financial industry gauge the needs among consumers in order to create products and services that could improve people’s lives.


The survey was an effort to contribute to the acceleration of the country’s journey towards a digital economy by linking consumers, businesses, government and financial institutions together. More Myanmar people are planning to open bank accounts and use cashless payments. According to the study, 41 percent of respondents said they now own bank accounts, and have access to banking services. Furthermore, 70 percent of those people surveyed who are currently without a bank account plan to open one.




The VISA survey summarized the following four factors as findings:  [5]


1. More Myanmar people are increasingly trusting banks and going cashless


Attitudes towards banks also continued to improve. Four in five people surveyed (82 percent) agreed that banks are safe and secure, compared to 68 percent from the previous year. A further 77 percent said banks are a convenient way of managing their personal finances.


Even though Myanmar people rely heavily on cash for daily transactions, one-fourth of the people surveyed (26 percent) have tried going cashless. One of the most exciting findings of the Study is that all of the people surveyed believed Myanmar has the potential to become a cashless society within the next 15 years or less.




2. Growing awareness and interest in contactless payments technology


One of the most widely used cashless methods in Myanmar is contactless payment cards. These cards enable card holders to pay for products and services by tapping their cards over payment terminals instead of swiping or inserting their cards, increasing speed and convenience while maintaining the same security as chip cards.


This method of payment is gaining ground with Myanmar consumers, where 21 percent of respondents are aware of using them compared to 13 percent in the previous year. Moreover, 48 percent of people surveyed said they’re interested to use contactless payment cards in the future. The increased interest in contactless payment is also in line with current Visa consumers’ behavior.




3. Education holds key to progress


According to the Study, 52 percent of the people surveyed considered themselves slightly knowledgeable in financial matters while only 7 percent of consumers considered themselves experts. This is where an opportunity to help Myanmar consumers understand how they can make the most out of financial services available in the market.


By continuing to share our knowledge with both consumers and industry players, there is much potential to build the foundation for better collaboration and connect Myanmar to the global economy.




4. Myanmar’s economic progress lies in everyone working together


VISA uncovered in the study that the findings are very encouraging to see positive attitudes towards banks and the appetite expressed by Myanmar people to adopt digital forms of payment. It is exciting to see growing interest for the adoption of electronic payments as more Myanmar consumers understand the benefits of going cashless.


The higher interest towards using electronic payments can be largely attributed to industry players and the government who have been driving the cashless agenda, as well as merchants around the country who put consumers’ demand at the forefront. A continuous effort of connecting and collaborating financial services to overcome obstacles and equip consumers with choices and education, the future of Myanmar is poised to be a bright one.


According to the Central Bank of Myanmar, there are 27 existing private banks in Myanmar at this moment,  [6] and four state owned banks.  [7] Recent reforms have advanced financial-sector development in Myanmar, but aspects of the regulatory environment still do not conform to international best practices.  [8] Since entering the country in 2012, Visa has seen considerable growth in the uptake of electronic payments. Last year, transaction volume, payment volume and card numbers have all seen triple-digit growth – the highest in any Visa market globally.  [9] MasterCard is in the Myanmar digital finance market too.  [10]




With less than 2,000 ATMs installed in the country, Myanmar has the lowest ATMs per million population ratio of 33 among all ASEAN countries. Notably, the banks are competing aggressively for bank accounts and ATMs just as competition in the mobile financial services space is heating up. Now, financial technology firms like Wave Money, True Money and OK Dollar, which provide mobile payment services, are offering users the option of bypassing the ATM completely.  [11]


Myanmar is no longer an isolated indignified nation among her neighboring countries. As the political weather improved better, the financial strength has become stronger. Though not all the levels of digital financing or fintech have not well introduced to the country, it has good soil to ground deep and bloom alongside her siblings in the ASEAN.






[1] Economic indicators for Myanmar by ADB

[2] Trading Economic: Myanmar Inflation Rate

[3] Economic indicators for Myanmar by ADB

[4] Myanmar Times

[5] Myanmar Times

[6] Central Bank of Myanmar: Private Banks

[7] Myanmar's Banking Sector in Transition by GIZ

[8] The Banking Sector in Myanmar: An Assessment of Recent Progress

[9] VISA in Myanmar

[10] MasterCard and CB Bank Mark Another First in Myanmar

[11] Myanmar Times


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Posted on : Tuesday 3rd August 2021 09:36 AM

A Brief Outlook on Myanmar Digital Payments Proliferation


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Posted by  Tronserve admin
image cap

Myanmar has a unique political history especially after the independence from the British in 1948. The democratic government did not last very long, in fact many ethnic armed groups came into existence in the same year. The long standing civil war did directly affect the economy of Myanmar. In spite of the political turmoil, Myanmar maintained its Kyat (Myanmar Currency) value one of the highest value in the region.


The downfall began in 1962 after fourteen years of democratic constitution, when the military took over the government and ruled Myanmar for 26 years straight. The currency value hit its lowest bottom pit and remains as one of the most inflated money in the region until today.  [1] The inflation rate in Myanmar was recorded at 9.45 percent in December of 2019. Myanmar Inflation Rate - values, historical data and charts - was last updated in March of 2020.  [2] But for 2020, Asia Development Bank (ADB) forecasts the inflation rate at 7.5 percent for Myanmar.  [3]




The military dictatorship ceased in 1988, and another form of military government continued to lead the country. Some private banks were allowed to operate, but the financial sector was clamped with sanctions from the West.


In 2010, another political transition occurred when the so-called new democratic government was formed with the 2008 Constitution. From that point, the financial sector began to open up to more opportunities.


Within less than a decade, Myanmar has emerged from isolation to become one of the new global investment destinations. The new government is more open to foreign investments including the financial sector. With a vast majority of the young population and growing number of the middle class, the country’s GDP growth is above 6.5 percent in recent years with the forecasted growth at 6.8 percent in 2020.  [4]




Whilst it has become one of the most prominent emerging economies in Southeast Asia, more than half of the adult population still have no formal access to digital financing services either through banks or other regulated financial institutions. In 2017, VISA launched a nationwide survey called “the Visa Consumer Payment Attitudes Survey." The in-depth study examines the perceptions, attitudes and behaviors Myanmar people have towards payment and emerging payment methods. The main goal is to help the financial industry gauge the needs among consumers in order to create products and services that could improve people’s lives.


The survey was an effort to contribute to the acceleration of the country’s journey towards a digital economy by linking consumers, businesses, government and financial institutions together. More Myanmar people are planning to open bank accounts and use cashless payments. According to the study, 41 percent of respondents said they now own bank accounts, and have access to banking services. Furthermore, 70 percent of those people surveyed who are currently without a bank account plan to open one.




The VISA survey summarized the following four factors as findings:  [5]


1. More Myanmar people are increasingly trusting banks and going cashless


Attitudes towards banks also continued to improve. Four in five people surveyed (82 percent) agreed that banks are safe and secure, compared to 68 percent from the previous year. A further 77 percent said banks are a convenient way of managing their personal finances.


Even though Myanmar people rely heavily on cash for daily transactions, one-fourth of the people surveyed (26 percent) have tried going cashless. One of the most exciting findings of the Study is that all of the people surveyed believed Myanmar has the potential to become a cashless society within the next 15 years or less.




2. Growing awareness and interest in contactless payments technology


One of the most widely used cashless methods in Myanmar is contactless payment cards. These cards enable card holders to pay for products and services by tapping their cards over payment terminals instead of swiping or inserting their cards, increasing speed and convenience while maintaining the same security as chip cards.


This method of payment is gaining ground with Myanmar consumers, where 21 percent of respondents are aware of using them compared to 13 percent in the previous year. Moreover, 48 percent of people surveyed said they’re interested to use contactless payment cards in the future. The increased interest in contactless payment is also in line with current Visa consumers’ behavior.




3. Education holds key to progress


According to the Study, 52 percent of the people surveyed considered themselves slightly knowledgeable in financial matters while only 7 percent of consumers considered themselves experts. This is where an opportunity to help Myanmar consumers understand how they can make the most out of financial services available in the market.


By continuing to share our knowledge with both consumers and industry players, there is much potential to build the foundation for better collaboration and connect Myanmar to the global economy.




4. Myanmar’s economic progress lies in everyone working together


VISA uncovered in the study that the findings are very encouraging to see positive attitudes towards banks and the appetite expressed by Myanmar people to adopt digital forms of payment. It is exciting to see growing interest for the adoption of electronic payments as more Myanmar consumers understand the benefits of going cashless.


The higher interest towards using electronic payments can be largely attributed to industry players and the government who have been driving the cashless agenda, as well as merchants around the country who put consumers’ demand at the forefront. A continuous effort of connecting and collaborating financial services to overcome obstacles and equip consumers with choices and education, the future of Myanmar is poised to be a bright one.


According to the Central Bank of Myanmar, there are 27 existing private banks in Myanmar at this moment,  [6] and four state owned banks.  [7] Recent reforms have advanced financial-sector development in Myanmar, but aspects of the regulatory environment still do not conform to international best practices.  [8] Since entering the country in 2012, Visa has seen considerable growth in the uptake of electronic payments. Last year, transaction volume, payment volume and card numbers have all seen triple-digit growth – the highest in any Visa market globally.  [9] MasterCard is in the Myanmar digital finance market too.  [10]




With less than 2,000 ATMs installed in the country, Myanmar has the lowest ATMs per million population ratio of 33 among all ASEAN countries. Notably, the banks are competing aggressively for bank accounts and ATMs just as competition in the mobile financial services space is heating up. Now, financial technology firms like Wave Money, True Money and OK Dollar, which provide mobile payment services, are offering users the option of bypassing the ATM completely.  [11]


Myanmar is no longer an isolated indignified nation among her neighboring countries. As the political weather improved better, the financial strength has become stronger. Though not all the levels of digital financing or fintech have not well introduced to the country, it has good soil to ground deep and bloom alongside her siblings in the ASEAN.






[1] Economic indicators for Myanmar by ADB

[2] Trading Economic: Myanmar Inflation Rate

[3] Economic indicators for Myanmar by ADB

[4] Myanmar Times

[5] Myanmar Times

[6] Central Bank of Myanmar: Private Banks

[7] Myanmar's Banking Sector in Transition by GIZ

[8] The Banking Sector in Myanmar: An Assessment of Recent Progress

[9] VISA in Myanmar

[10] MasterCard and CB Bank Mark Another First in Myanmar

[11] Myanmar Times

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digital payment myanmar banking digital currency electronic banking