Wave Money to Expand Network

By Kyaw Hsu Mon 9 November 2016

RANGOON — The country’s first mobile financial service, Wave Money, announced that it will expand its business network to at least two of Burma’s ethnic states by the end of the year, Brad Jones, the service’s CEO, told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday.

Wave Money is formed from a joint venture: Telenor owns 51 percent, with First Myanmar Investment holding 44 percent and Yoma Bank at 5 percent. The total investment is around US$17 million.

While the service was initiated early this year, Burma’s Central Bank only granted a service license to Wave Money in early October. Since then, Wave Money has opened 4,000 shops around the country to transfer money without the use of bank accounts.

“There will be 6,000 Wave shops around the country by the end of this year. We will continue the network distribution,” Jones said in the Wave Money launching ceremony in Rangoon on Wednesday.

The money transfer service can be accessed by customers in two ways: through agents in shops or by using the Wave Money application.

“We will continue [running] shops in Rangoon and Mandalay, especially. We will expand shops in Rakhine State and Chin State, from cities to small towns through the network,” Jones told The Irrawaddy.

Wave Money aims to launch more shops in all states and divisions to total more than 15,000 shops by the end of 2017.

The Central Bank issued regulations on mobile financial services on March 30. In April, the Central Bank announced that providers could allow customers to open mobile accounts and deposit and transfer money between them.

People-to-people, people-to-government, people-to-business and business-to-business money transfers are now permitted under the Central Bank’s regulations.

Daw Than Than Swe, director general of the financial advisory department within the Central Bank, confirmed that Wave Money is currently only the licensed mobile financial service in the country.

“There are some channels of mobile services through private banks…but Wave Money is standing as the solo mobile financial service now,” she said.