Our participation in the East Asia World Economic Forum (here in the Myanmar capital, Nay Pyi Taw) kicked off with a lunchtime discussion on how to advance financial inclusion in the region. Interesting table discussions featured a healthy mix of senior representatives from governments, private sector and NGOs and offered great opportunity for Visa to talk about our ideas and product solutions, especially mobile.
Inevitably much of the discussion centered on Myanmar itself, where the government is facing multiple infrastructure and regulatory challenges at the same time. With a huge unbanked sector and a very low penetration of mobile (around 4%) it’s going to take a long time for mobile banking to be a viable solution and so all parties are going to have to focus on alternative near term solutions.
Nonetheless, the government seems really committed to learning how to make progress. The minister of finance, who was an active table discussion participant, proved to be incredibly thoughtful in his approach which is consistent with how we have found working with the government to this point.
No doubt, huge amount of work to be done but, as in Rwanda, having a government and banking sector which is set on making progress despite the challenges is half the battle. Combine this with Visa’s early success in hooking up ATMs and signing up more than 350 merchants over the last six months and it seems clear that Myanmar is set to be another electronic payments success story.
Posted by: Stephen Kehoe, Head of Corporate Relations, APCEMEA on June 5, 2013 at 9:25 am