Myanmar tech companies adapt to COVID-19 environment

Wave Money said it moved a total of K12 trillion (US$ 8.7 billion) in cash funds, across Myanmar amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which is double the amount handled in 2019 and equivalent to around 11.5 percent of the country’s 2020 GDP. This included K32 billion in donations and government disbursements to those severely affected by COVID-19.

During the year, the company reported over 1.5 million monthly active users on its new digital application WavePay. Meanwhile, more than 3.9 million were actively utilizing its traditional agent led money transfer services each month.Brad Jones, CEO of Wave Money, said that beyond contributing to Myanmar’s COVID-19 efforts, the company has played a large role in facilitating digital money transfers, utility payments and shopping for food and other necessities at a time when physical cash payments were unsafe and inconvenient.
“This has helped businesses, particularly small and medium enterprises s to stay afloat,” he added.

Wave Money is currently supporting 37 projects, including social security payments under the Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population, loan disbursements for farmers from Myanmar Agricultural Development Bank, cash transfers to pregnant women and children under the Maternal and Child Cash Transfer program of the Department of Social Welfare, and the emergency funds for laid off garment workers from the Myan Ku Fund project of the European Union.

Surge in virtual conferences

Telenor Myanmar saw a surge in video conferencing data traffic in 2020 as businesses moved operations online amid COVID-19. The three leading video conferencing platforms during the year were Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Hangout, it said.
Data traffic in file-sharing services also increased, particularly on OneDrive, Dropbox and Google Drive.

Telenor Myanmar said April was the month with the highest carrying traffic since the pandemic hit the country. The company saw data usage grow by 16.5pc in the first wave (March and April) compared to January and February and 5.4pc growth in the second wave (September and October) compared to July and August. Streaming, web browsing, social media services and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) remarkably increased on New Year’s Eve compared to normal daily usage, the company said.

Telenor Myanmar recorded its highest ever voice and data traffic with voice and SMS volumes surging by 468pc and 371pc respectively during New Year’s Eve celebrations compared to normal daily usage. Video and music streaming traffic on Telenor’s VIU application also rose, while VoIP traffic during the New Year was led by Facebook Messenger, followed by WhatsApp, WeChat, and Viber. Among social media providers, Facebook saw the highest increase with 46pc more traffic.

Expanding digitally

Digital retail service provider NearMe and Grab and Go Convenience Stores (G&G) signed a partnership agreement to make e- payments available at all G&G stores across Myanmar. The partnership will enable customers to pay for their shopping, as well as pay bills, buy tickets, purchase mobile data top-ups and access over 100 digital services at NearMe’s point-of-sale
terminals in G&G stores.

Moreover, customers can choose from a variety of QR code generated e-payment options from mobile wallets like Citizens, MSP, KBZPay, CBPay with more to come. Users will soon also be able to top up wallets and perform additional financial transactions.
U Lynn Htaik Aung, CEO of NearMe, said the partnership is timely as digital payments had been identified as an important facilitator of the government’s COVID-19 Economic Relief Plan.

“NearMe will continue its efforts to bring on board popular merchants and retailers to increase our platform’s reach and encourage more Myanmar people to pay with digital payments at the stores they frequent,” he said.

Donations to COVID-19 fund

KBZ Bank said it donated K3 billion to the government’s COVID-19 Vaccination Fund to support the country’s vaccination drive, which is targeted to begin in February.

On December 30, 2020, the National-Level Central Committee on Prevention, Control and Treatment of Coronavirus Disease 2019 formed the Fund Management Sub-committee on the Purchase
of COVID-19 Vaccines.

The Sub-committee established the COVID-19 Vaccination Fund, for which the Ministry of Planning, Finance and Industry has since called for cash donations to purchase vaccines. The bank has also worked with other KBZ branded companies including KBZ MS General Insurance and AIR KBZ to collectively donate K14.2 billion towards Myanmar’s response to COVID19.

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Source: Myanmar Times

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