Telenor Myanmar is partnering with Yoma Bank to offer mobile banking, with the aim of providing basic financial services in a country where only 6 per cent of the population has a bank account.
The moves comes just a month after Telenor launched mobile service in Yangon and claimed to have “released” one million SIMs in the capital in just one day.
Telenor Myanmar CEO Petter Furberg told Myanmar Times that banks normally focus on valuable customers because they have high fixed costs. However, Telenor wants to “start at the bottom of the pyramid and work upwards, serving the segment that will not be served by the banks in general because the cost will be too high.”
Telenor will combine its extensive distribution network in the country with Yoma’s established brand name, coupled with vast knowledge of money transfer services, said Furberg.
The two have already started hiring workers and setting up IT infrastructure, but they are waiting for the Central Bank of Myanmar to shed light on what kind of regulations they will have to comply with as currently there are no guidelines.
There is likely to be a $500 limit on the size of a transaction, according to Yoma Bank chair and CEO Serge Pun.
Bank-led mobile banking is already available in Myanmar, such as a service offered by Myanmar Mobile Money. Based on what officials have said in the past, the government is going to launch non-bank-led mobile payment licences as well, for which rules have already been laid out.
Furberg envisions a model where a customer buys an amount from a store that generates a code for the receiver of the money. The receiver would then show the code, which they could receive via SMS, to their local participating store and receive the amount in cash.
“To me the essence of it is the ability to cash in and cash out a very small amount at a very low price,” Furberg explained.
He added that Telenor is setting up mobile banking operations across its Asian operations.