Cash Is Our Biggest Competitor, Says Wave Money CEO


Cash is the “biggest competitor” for mobile transaction venture Wave Money as it seeks to overcome My­anmar’s aversion to non-physical money, CEO Brad Jones has said.

The entire industry will benefit from increased consumer awareness when new entrants begin offering alternatives to Wave Money, he added.

Qatar-based telco op­erator Ooredoo is looking to launch its own mobile financial services, while a fourth telecoms operator is scheduled to enter My­anmar this year.

“The biggest competi­tor we have right now in Myanmar is cash,” Jones told Myanmar Business Today. “Until we get a sit­uation where the major­ity of unbanked Myanmar adults are using mobile money… we’ll all be trying to convince them to move out of cash and into digi­tal money.”

Wave Money, a mobile money provider backed by Norwegian telecoms provider Telenor and lo­cal lender Yoma Bankwas the first international service provider to launch under fresh regulations released by the CBM in March last year.

While Wave Money has amassed over 250,000 customers and has seen month on month growth since it began operations in August last year, a lack of financial education amongst consumers has proven the largest obsta­cle so far.

“Mobile money is a cat­egory that doesn’t really exist yet, consumer educa­tion is really our number one challenge,” said Jones.

“When the other opera­tors come in, I think we’ll see the overall sector in­crease because there’ll be two or three other op­erators all educating the market.”

He added that rogue mobile financial service operators pose a risk to Myanmar’s mobile money industry unless the Cen­tral Bank of Myanmar (CBM) can enforce regu­lations.

The country’s nascent mobile money industry is considered an essential component of the govern­ment achieving its target of getting 40 percent of the population to use fi­nancial services by the year 2020.

But without strong oversight, said Jones, the industry stands to loose the trust of consumers.

“We’re compliant to regulations and to inter­national best practice, so customers’ money is al­ways safe with us. That isn’t necessarily the case with other providers,” said Jones.

“If there’s some sort of failure or if there’s a loss of customer trust in the system, it will impact eve­ryone in the sector.”

Jones says that the new regulations which enable international companies to offer mobile financial services was a ‘very big move’ by the government but now it’s up to the cen­tral bank to ensure people comply with them.


Source: Myanmar Business Today

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