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Telenor readying mobile money with Yoma in Myanmar

Telenor Myanmar is launching a mobile banking offering in partnership with Yoma Bank.

Considering that only 6% of Myanmar’s population has access to a bank account, the service is aimed at allowing the unbanked access to basic financial transactions.

The Myanmar-based unit of Telenor began offering services in Yangon around a month ago, and claimed to have made one million SIMs available after just one day.

CEO Petter Furberg has stated that in terms of customer value, the operator intends to “start at the bottom of the pyramid and work upwards, serving the segment that will not be served by the banks in general because the cost will be too high.” He noted that banks typically focus on higher-value customers as they have guaranteed fixed costs.

Telenor’s new service will leverage its expansive network for distribution, as well as capitalising on established loyalty to Yoma’s brand. In addition, the banking group has strong knowledge of money transfer services. Furberg has stated that Telenor is launching mobile banking services across its Asian operations.

As the Central Bank of Myanmar has not issued guidelines for operator-led mobile money services, Telenor and Yoma are waiting for clarification on this front. Nonetheless, the two firms have begun deploying infrastructure as well as bringing staff on board. Yoma Bank chair and CEO Serge Pun has expressed his belief that there will be an upper limit of $500 on mobile transactions.

While regulation for operator-led mobile money services is still forthcoming, bank-led mobile services such as Myanmar Mobile Money are already available. Rules have reportedly been established for non-bank-led mobile payment licences, with government officials suggesting that they will be issued shortly.

“To me the essence of it is the ability to cash in and cash out a very small amount at a very low price,” says Furberg. His vision for the business model would see a customer generating a code from each purchase which is then used by the money’s receiver to cash out using their local participating agent.


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