Ooredoo’s M-Pitesan launches in next development in popular mobile money industry

 

by Ben Roache

M-Pitesan, Ooredoo’s entry into the increasingly competitive online mobile money industry, has launched this week. Allowing users to send money to friends and family, as well as purchasing airtime, Ooredoo hopes to change the lives of the people of Myanmar with their new innovative wallet solution.

M-Pitesan’s Mobile money app works like OK$ and Wave Money by enabling users to deposit cash at any registered agent, of which there are over 3200 across Myanmar, according to May Myo Han, Public Relations Senior Manager at Ooredoo Myanmar.

From there, customers can transfer their mobile wallet balance to other users through their mobile phone number, and can withdraw from their balance at any other agent elsewhere in the country. It is through this process that Ooredoo hopes to revolutionise the remittance process between family members. Purchases of day-to-day goods can also be made at agents by paying with the value in the customer’s wallet.

At Consult-Myanmar, we think this an exciting time for the mobile money industry in Myanmar. While mobile phone usage is exploding, a huge majority of the country is without a bank account, instead simply relying exclusively on cash. We heard of a Yangon resident who sends money back to his parents in the countryside in an envelope, delivered by a trusted bus driver who takes the 10+ hour trip every week. Mobile money services can absolutely revolutionise this process for everyday people here in Myanmar.

The challenge now for these services is for them to grow their network of agents where users can deposit, withdraw and spend their money. Very few customers currently use any of these services, and in time, consumers will likely gravitate to the service with the widest network. We think OK$ may have a slight upper-hand here, due to its strong connection with small local retailers selling coffee, tea and other basic goods, and its compatibility with all phone networks. However, they will not have the ability to advertise to their existing customer like Telenor or Ooredoo.

Challenging also for Ooredoo are their lower subscriber numbers for the mobile phone network. Just as Wave Money is operated by, and exclusively for Telenor customers, M-Pitesan is offered only to Ooredoo customers. It’s likely that a smaller footprint of potential customers could lead to less interest from businesses looking to become a mobile money agent in the short to medium term. A steady stream of new customers and agent is required for success in the mobile money industry.

But, M-Pitesan’s app looks to be of high quality, and their instant transfer feature from CB Bank accounts to M-Pitesan wallets could prove useful for those already more connected to the traditional banking system.

But for now, all major services have now launched with similar numbers of agents. We’re excited to see how the industry progresses over the next few months, particularly in the area of major retail cooperative agreements, such as City Mart or one of the major convenience store chains.

About the author:
Ben Roache has a Bachelor of Laws/Bachelor of Arts (Double Major: Asian Studies & Japanese) from the University of Adelaide. This article was written as part of a research project on the fintech sector in Myanmar that he was involved in while at Consult-Myanmar, a Yangon-based consulting firm.

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