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Saturday, November 21, 2015

Myanmar’s big opportunity for social media and online payments

"What growing mobile and internet adoption will mean in Myanmar" according to Jonathan Keane, freelance journalist, living in Ireland, covering business and technology.

Photo: IDG Connect

Myanmar is a potentially massive market for online and mobile services. It is still at a young stage when it comes to internet connectivity but strategic foreign investments in the country’s growing mobile and internet markets are creating major opportunities for social media and online payments.

Myanmar has a population of over 50 million and in recent years the government has begun to open the gates to foreign investment in its networks.

Previously, people were limited to ISPs that were closely linked to the state but the government has allowed a select few foreign companies to enter and build out internet services and infrastructure. Since then Norway 

Telenor has launched its internet services, Qatar’s Ooredoo opened up a mobile phone service in the country, and Japan’s KDDI entered in 2014, having accomplished a similar build out in Mongolia.

These operators sense an opportunity. “Myanmar is experiencing a rapid move towards democracy and the market in mobile phones and fixed line communications is expected to grow dramatically in the future,” said Takashi Tanaka, KDDI president when the company launched there.

Meanwhile Myanmar is crafting relations with China. China United Telecommunications Corporation will build the first undersea internet cable between the two countries...

Social media payments
Online and social media payments could very well be the major market shift for Myanmar’s blossoming internet and smartphone users.

Myanmar payments platform MyPay has received investment from Singapore’s Fastacash to bring micropayments via social media to the country. MyPay works with local social media site MySQUAR and its app MyCHAT, which will eventually allow for micropayments on mobile.  
Currently the app has 1.5 million user accounts but just 50% of those are active at this time.

“Myanmar is a largely unbanked country, with many having never had the opportunity to make instant transfers to family and friends or pay for items online,” Pham Dang Hung, COO and finance director at MySQUAR tells IDG Connect.

While this service will be available to users domestically, Hung Pham sees the opportunity in connecting overseas workers with their families at home. Many don’t have bank accounts or access to channels like Western Union. This is a “huge need” that needs to be plugged, he says.

Source: IDG Connect

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