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The Massive Myanmar Opportunity for Digital Financial Services

By Wayan Vota on May 22, 2017

Myanmar is experiencing one of the world’s fastest adoption of mobile phones. Three years ago, less than 10% of the population had access to ma mobile phone. Today, over 90% of population of Myanmar has 3G coverage and more than half of all adults have smartphones.

Despite this rapid uptake of mobile technology, Myanmar remains one of the least developed financial systems in Southeast Asia. The country’s largest bank by asset has only 307 branches. Only 2 percent of adults have a debit card, and only 3 percent of adults have insurance.

Myanmar DFS opportunity

Mobilizing Myanmar: A Smartphone Revolution Connects the Poor with Economic Opportunities, a new report by Pwint Htun and Paula Bock explores the momentous transformation underway in Myanmar and the unique opportunity for Digital Financial Services.

Mobilizing Myanmar shows that Myanmar has among the world’s most progressive mobile financial services regulations and three mobile network operators actively working to connect rural and urban populations with financial services.

The report is based on country-level diagnostic that leveraged data from the Central Bank, Ministry of Communications, the three telecommunication companies operating in Myanmar, Facebook, Viber, a nationally representative Information and Communication Technology survey of 7,500 households, and recent census data from the UNFPA.

Interviews with more than 150 people in rural and urban areas about their mobile phone usage,  financial lives, challenges and hopes, shows that thoughtful implementation of digital financial services could transform the lives of poor and marginalized peoples in Myanmar, providing a path out of poverty.

The timing is right to use digital financial services to make the greatest impact for marginalized people who have long been excluded from the formal economy.

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Written by
Wayan Vota co-founded ICTworks. He also co-founded Technology Salon, MERL Tech, ICTforAg, ICT4Djobs, ICT4Drinks, JadedAid, Kurante, OLPC News and a few other things. Opinions expressed here are his own and do not reflect the position of his employer, any of its entities, or any ICTWorks sponsor.
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