Mobile Payments Make Their Way to Myanmar
Myanmar is the poorest country in Southeast Asia, and less than 15% of the population owns a mobile phone of any kind. In a remote area like this, having cash readily available for transactions can be difficult at best. Myanmar has decided to spread wireless networks throughout its cities, and with that option comes a new opportunity for financial exchanges. What is the opportunity? Mobile payments.
As wireless networks spread in Myanmar, so will the availability of smart phones. These devices can be equipped with mobile payment programs so that Myanmar residents can pay for items with just the use of their phones. They will not have to worry about carrying cash at all times because they will have their funds on their phones. This should make transactions go a lot smoother in the future.
Visa and MasterCard are the main companies pushing for this change, following the success of mobile payments in Kenya a few years ago. Now, there are more than $900 million in mobile money transactions in Kenya each month, making for a large portion of the economic activity in the country. Visa and MasterCard hope to see similar success in Myanmar.
“In markets where you don’t have that fixed infrastructure in place, it may well be that mobile acceptance is going to be the way to go. There’s a great opportunity to leapfrog,” MasterCard’s Southeast Asia head Matt Driver told Bloomberg.
They plan to do just that as soon as possible.