YANGON—China’s Ant Financial Services Group plans to invest US$73.5 million (103.2 billion kyats) in Myanmar’s leading mobile money company, Wave Money. Owned by Alibaba Group, Hangzhou-based Ant is the operator of the online payment service Alipay.
Wave Money, a joint venture between Telenor Group and Yoma Strategic, runs a network of more than 57,000 agents across 295 out of 330 townships in Myanmar, covering approximately 89 percent of the country. Yoma Strategic said in a press release on Monday the investment would promote access to financial services for people in Myanmar, as well as upgrade the technological capabilities and security of the country’s mobile financial services.
More than 21 million people have used Wave Money’s services, including Wave Pay, for remittances, utility payments, airtime top-ups and digital payments, according to the company.
The press release said that as part of the strategic partnership, Wave Money will be able to take advantage of Ant Group’s experience building mobile payment platforms to enhance its digital competence, capabilities and services.
Yoma Strategic CEO Melvyn Pun said, “The COVID-19 situation is accelerating the trend toward a cashless society and drives the growth of e-commerce, and we expect this partnership to massively boost Wave Money’s capabilities to support these trends.”
Last year, Wave Money’s transfer volume more than tripled year-on-year, reaching 6.4 trillion kyats in the country, according to the company.
According to the report, “Fintech 2019: The Fears of Myanmar’s Unbanked”, Myanmar ranks lowest among ASEAN countries in terms of “financial inclusion”—the proportion of its population that has access to financial services. To address the problem, Myanmar in 2013 launched its Financial Inclusion Roadmap. The government plans to increase financial inclusion in the country from its current 48 percent to 60 percent by 2022.
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