Yoma Bank, Telenor to Invest in Mobile Payments Joint Venture

Yoma Bank and Telenor are set to invest more than $8 million each over the
next year in their new mobile payments joint venture, according to a
company filing.

Mobile money is expected to be a growth sector as the expansion of access
to mobile phone and internet services coincides with efforts to give more
people access to financial services. Burma’s large rural population and the
large number of both internal and external migrant workers mean an
affordable and convenient way to transfer funds could prove highly popular.

One of the country’s largest banks and the leading private mobile phone
operator, at least, seem to think it’s worth a punt.

Yoma Bank’s majority shareholder First Myanmar Investment is set to be the
first company to list its shares on the Yangon Stock Exchange when trading
opens on March 25. Alongside an announcement March 14 that it had received
listing approval, FMI published a lengthy disclosure document for listing.

Among the disclosures is a section on the “strategies” of Yoma Bank going
forward. While the bank’s “primary focus” would be on growing loans to
small- and medium-sized enterprises, the filing said, the bank would
attempt to “establish internet banking.”

The first digital financial product on offer is Wave Money, a service from
Digital Money Myanmar, a company in which Yoma Bank holds a 49 percent
stake. The remaining 51 percent is owned by three subsidiaries of Telenor
Group, the Norwegian company that has raced to more than 14 million
subscribers in less than two years of operations in Burma.

Testing of the Wave Money service—which promises low-cost cash transfers on
your mobile phone—was announced in November, but a formal launch has not
yet been held. The FMI prospectus said Wave Money should be online by the
end of the current fiscal year, or March 31.
Yoma Bank will be putting money into the company over the next year, as and
when it is called for, the filing said.

“Yoma Bank expects to invest all of the US$8.33 million before the end of
FY 2016-2017. The other shareholders have also agreed to invest additional
money in proportion to their current shareholding,” it said, implying that
a total of about $17 million will be pumped into Wave Money over the next
year.
In a separate section that listed comprehensively the risks faced by FMI’s
businesses, the disclosure document noted that Wave Money faces competition
from existing mobile payment services Myanmar Mobile Money, 663 Mobile
Money and MyKyat, as well as other planned mobile payment services.

New regulations on the sector could also be a risk, it said.

“Digital Money Myanmar may be subject to increasing regulatory constraints,
particularly with respect to money transfers,” the filing said.

“There is not yet a robust regulatory framework covering mobile payments in
Myanmar, and any changes to existing regulations could adversely affect
Digital Money Myanmar’s business, financial condition and results of
operations.”

 

Source: Irrawaddy

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