Managing money via smartphones is getting popular in the digital world. The world is moving towards a cashless society where no one requires physical currency to buy goods or to send money.
Countries like Myanmar, where owning a sim card was an expensive affair costing $5,000 in 2000, have achieved a mobile subscription rate of 135% of their entire population. In response to the growing mobile adoption rate, the country's digital payment adoption rate reached 80% in 2019. In contrast, it was only 1% in 2016.
Visa surveyed 504 people in Myanmar across the Pathein, Yangon, Magway, and Mandalay regions in Sep 2018. The survey found that up to 60% of the customers pay via cashless payment options when purchasing items at supermarkets and hypermarkets.
Market overview for mobile wallets in Myanmar
Myanmar presents an ideal business environment for digital wallets:
- Traditional banking penetration is shallow in Myanmar. A mere 26% of grown-ups in Myanmar possess an account at a financial institution, which is very low in comparison to the median average of 49% for neighboring countries.
- The currency circulation in Myanmar is 21% of M2, which is more than double of what is found in peer countries, where it is commonly around 10%. (Confused about what M2 is? Here is a simple definition: M2 is the rough total value of financial assets held principally by households. This includes cash, deposits and investments)
- The mobile subscription rate stands at 135% of their entire population, which indicates that there is huge potential for the digital payment industry in Myanmar.
Banks, telecoms, and independent operators hold a Significant share in Myanmar's digital payments market
Up till now, the Central Bank of Myanmar has licenced only five non-banking institutions to offer mobile financial services, which is very small when compared to the neighbouring country, Vietnam, where the state bank has issued 33 licences. The five players in Myanmar's digital payment space are Wave Money, OK$, M-Pitesan, My Money, and MPT Money.
Apart from these five non-financial institutions, Myanmar's commercial banks are also offering mobile financial services, with several of them having their e-wallets. For example, CB Bank owns CB Pay, Ongo is in partnership with MOB Bank, and KBZ Bank owns KBZ Pay.
Source: Tellimer Research
Features for a mobile wallet in Myanmar
Keeping the current market scenario of Myanmar in mind, what are the features a mobile wallet app in Myanmar should incorporate? Here are some of the crucial features for a mobile wallet app in Myanmar:
Instant Intra-wallet payments
Your mobile wallet should be capable of transferring money between the payer's wallet to the payee's wallet instantly. Your customer won't rely on your mobile wallet if it takes hours or days to complete payment.
Instant payment is among the core characteristics of an e-wallet. There is no space for an error when your customer is at a store trying to make payment for the goods that they just selected. In a cashless world, the payment experience should be at least as seamless as when the customer pays via cash.
Payments from and to bank accounts
A mobile wallet should facilitate the ability to make money transfer directly from the payer's bank account. The payee should have the option to receive money either to their bank account or wallet. The bank to bank transfers also includes the user's account in the same bank, as well as another person's account in a different bank.
Wallet owners should be provided with a variety of payment options while sending or receiving money. The options should be one tap away whenever and wherever the users are within the app interface.
Modern mobile wallets aren't just about making person to person payments; they also should be able to help users with paying utility bills, mortgages, loan payments, rent, tuition, etc.
As digital money is becoming more and more popular, mobile wallets will not only replace conventional payment methods, but also provide the users with convenience to make effortless payments - be it prepaid or postpaid.
Physical and virtual card management
Digital wallets can safely store the user's debit/credit card data, which is used to make digital payments seamless. This way, users don't have to input card details every time that they want to make payments. The user's card details can be stored in a central space within the mobile wallet.
Moreover, storing the card details in the mobile wallet is safer than carrying physical cards because it doesn't directly store the card details as they are. Instead, the card details are encrypted to ensure high-grade security.
A single user can have multiple cards, and therefore, your e-wallet app has to be ready to manage numerous card operations like adding new cards, assigning primary/secondary cards, removing cards, etc.
Integration with contactless payment technologies
In today's digital world, more and more brick and mortar stores are adopting contactless technologies to make the customer checkout process faster and easier. Retail customers prefer to be able to make in-store payment via e-wallets using contactless payment methods such as QR code and NFC (Near Field Communication).
QR (Quick Response) codes are the most popular digital payment method in current times. QR code technology is very similar to barcodes. The user can scan the merchant's QR code using their mobile phone camera to make payment. Your e-wallet mobile app should have the camera integration to make it happen.
Whereas NFC is a contactless technology that interacts with other NFC enabled devices within a distance of up to 10 centimetres. Many consumer gadgets use this technology to connect with other devices, and one such example is portable speakers. The mobile wallets can make use of this technology to facilitate secure payments between smartphones and POS devices.
Considering the ever-evolving user demand for convenience in payments, QR codes and NFC are a must-have feature for mobile wallets.
Security is the foremost priority, especially when it comes to digitising financial services. The monetary transactions have to be safe and secure and should be encrypted from end to end.
There are several robust technologies which can make e-wallets secure. Technologies such as two-factor authentication, tokenisation, biometric authentication, end-to-end encryption, security questions, OTP (One-Time Passwords) via SMS, are currently available to make mobile payments secure.
Easy and fast onboarding
Customer onboarding is one of the significant challenges e-wallet app developers face while creating a mobile wallet app. 40% of the users in Europe abandon a financial services app during digital customer onboarding, and Myanmar is not so different.
Mobile wallets exist to save user's time and efforts while making a payment. Thus, the registration process cannot be complicated and should require the least possible efforts from the users. A digital wallet should have a straightforward self-registration process, so that the user can sign up for the services right from their mobile phone without having to visit a kiosk.
The following mobile wallet self-registration process will help you understand how can you make your digital customer onboarding process simpler:
- User downloads the app and launches it.
- Sign-up by feeding the app with personal details such as Name, Mobile Number, E-mail ID, Identity Proof, Profile picture, etc.)
- Confirm registration via OTP
- User setup their password for log-in
- Option to link debit/credit card
- Add money to the e-wallet and start making payments.
The user registration process is the first impression your user will have of your mobile wallet app. Thus, it would be best to make onboarding seamless, so that the user does not abandon the app.
Coupons, rewards, and discounts
Marketing and sales teams know the importance of discounts and coupons. E-wallets are an ideal environment for marketers to provide deal-seeking customers with relevant benefits.
Thus, your e-wallet app should allow users to acquire and manage discount coupons and loyalty rewards quickly. As the Myanmar market already has a few mobile wallet service providers, your app needs to stand out with such unique features and deals.
While mobile apps are simplifying people's everyday lives, simple tasks like bill splitting should also be made easier by payment apps. Such simple features can bring your e-wallet app a competitive advantage over your competitors.
For example, this feature will allow your app users to split their payments when they're out with their friends for dinner. While making the payment, your user should have an option to add their friends to the bill by sending them payment requests.
Another advantage of having this feature is that it will help you in obtaining more customers as the word of mouth marketing and ease of payment will trigger the user's friends to download and use your app.
Considering a shallow adoption of bank accounts in Myanmar, it is a huge business opportunity for mobile wallet service providers in Myanmar to provide users with virtual as well as physical debit cards.
Several e-wallet service providers in Asia are already offering debit cards to their customers. The users can make payments and make money withdrawals using those cards. Despite the world moving towards a cashless economy, it is still essential to provide the customers with an option to withdraw money at ATMs.
For instance, when a mobile wallet user wants to buy fresh vegetables from a street vendor, he might need some cash. Thus, you should provide them with an option to withdraw money.
Loan offering and management
There are multiple revenue streams through which a mobile wallet service provider in Myanmar can make money. Offering small-term loans is one of the options. The concept is similar to what Paytm is doing in India, by providing customers with a “Paytm Postpaid” service. Through this, a customer is offered a small loan based on their credit score.
However, the process needs to be made mobile-friendly. There cannot be a requirement of heavy paperwork to obtain the loan. The loan management system will require collecting of the customer's credit scores and application details, integration with the banking system, and an instant approval supported by credit bureau integration.
Analytical diagrams and dashboard
Every mobile wallet customer can benefit from tracking their personal financial health. Features like monthly spend analyser will help mobile wallet users to stay on top of their money. The reports, diagrams, figures, and insights will enable them to view and analyse their personal finance operations.
The users will trust your mobile wallet more if it gives them insights into where they are spending their money, and how they can reduce their monthly expenses. This trust will encourage them to become a loyal customer of your mobile wallet app.
User data backup facility
Data backup is also a very vital feature for your mobile wallet in Myanmar. It will allow the users to restore their ewallet data, so they never lose track of their finances. The best way is to provide the users with a variety of options to safely store their data, such as Sync to iCloud or Dropbox.
A chatbot is an AI-powered software program that interacts with humans over the internet. The program is assisted with neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) that relates to thoughts, language, and patterns of human behaviour. The Chatbot program is fed with various scenarios and their outcomes. Based on these experiences, the program responds to the user's queries.
Chatbots are a powerful tool for businesses to communicate with their audience. The chatbot can be available 24/7 with a meagre cost. In contrast, it would require a significant amount of human resources if a mobile wallet service provider wants to significantly improve their customer service.
It is a powerful new way for businesses to communicate with their audience, keep their users engaged, and improve customer service. 24/7 availability is the most critical benefit of using a chatbot. However, considering current level technological advancements in the AI and ML space, it is recommended to use a chatbot for initial yet more straightforward customer interactions only.
Enabling Financial Inclusion in Myanmar
Providing consumers with a safe and faster way of making monetary transactions is a strong driver of financial inclusion in a country. Let's discuss how introducing mobile wallets in Myanmar will change the financial scenario:
Ability to make safer payments
Mobile wallets are a safer method of making monetary transactions. For instance, without digital payments, workers have to travel with cash to send money to their families or to make payments, which often has led to loss or theft. With digital wallets, anyone having access to a smartphone can instantly send money to just about anyone in the country.
Modern e-wallet applications are very secure. They store digital currency with proper authentication methods to ensure the utmost security of customers' money. It certainly is the safest alternative to the cash inside your safe.
Doesn't charge to customers
It's for free. Many mobile wallet providers even offer discount coupons and contribute funds to their users whenever the user makes any purchase through the mobile e-wallet app. The mobile wallet service providers collaborate with many other financial or non-financial companies to offer their services via a mobile wallet app. This is how the e-wallet providers make money.
Boon for merchants
The adoption of financial services in Myanmar is evident with the numbers stated at the beginning of the article. Those merchants who are underserved by conventional financial institutions can easily open their account with mobile wallet service providers and start accepting digital payments via mobile devices.
The banking infrastructure is not very advanced in Myanmar. There are a very small number of ATMs available in rural and semi-urban areas. Thus, mobile wallet service providers also facilitate mobile teller services. Retail businesses can earn a commission for every transaction that the customer makes for mobile teller services.
Makes businesses resilient
Digital payments make it easier for businesses to collect payments. The faster movement of payments helps businesses achieve optimum cash flow. The reduced working capital requirement will eventually lead to companies offering more affordable products and services to unbanked consumers.
Cash transactions require a significant amount of time in moving, counting, and storing cash. Alternatively, the use of mobile money will help businesses carry out accounting accurately, reducing corruption, and to achieve reduced costs. Although mobile money still isn't ready to completely replace cash, it is in the right direction.
Challenges ahead for mobile wallets in Myanmar
Although mobile wallets are already on board on the rocketship in Myanmar, several challenges should be overcome to ensure its success.
In the absence of a centralised citizen identity service in Myanmar, it makes it difficult for mobile wallet service providers to confirm an individual's identity. Given the small-dollar value per transaction and a limited number of permissible cross-border transactions, the risk of fraud is relatively low. But, this risk may increase over time.
Limited regulatory oversight
Myanmar has minimal regulatory oversight, and hence, it is straightforward for companies to operate. This ease of doing business may leave room for some bad players that can dishonour the industry. Compliance regulations such as KYC (Know Your Customers) and AML (Anti Money Laundering) should be implemented. It will ensure the transparency of all the financial transactions that are done via mobile wallets. In addition to this, there should also be standards that ensure consumer data privacy and security.
Each mobile wallet provider is responsible for building the walls around the empire of a cashless society, not the bridges only. For instance, when it is burdensome to make financial transactions from one e-wallet to another e-wallet, the customers will be worse off. The fintechs should work towards the vision of an open banking future.
Credit score reporting
Similar to inadequate regulatory oversight, credit reporting also isn't centralised. The industry requires centralised credit bureaus, which make assessing risk and offering loans much easier for the next-gen financial institutions. Currently, the data is siloed with each player in the financial space, which makes the system burdensome.
Undoubtedly, Myanmar is ready to have its next big tech revolution in the payment industry. Considering the lower adoption rate of banking institutions by the population and the growing use of mobile payments, it is evident that the market for digital payments in Myanmar will only grow.
We at Nimble AppGenie, have been developing mobile wallets for more than five years and have extensive knowledge about creating mobile wallets that are compliant to the industry regulations. If you're looking for a mobile wallet development company that can help you develop your mobile wallet for Myanmar, reach out to us and get a quote here.
Jermaine Trotman is the co-founder of Nimble AppGenie, a company renowned for its bespoke mobile app development and web development in e-wallet app development and fintech development.