FinTechs Focus On Myanmar’s Unbanked Citizens

FinTechs Target Myanmar

After decades of oppression, the economy of Myanmar opened to foreign investment, and many companies are jumping at the chance to help establish tech advancement and FinTech services for the unbanked.

One of these firms, Forbes reported, is Red Dot Myanmar, which enables users to purchase mobile top-ups, pay bills and buy products at shop partners throughout the country via its payment network.

Red Dot Myanmar founder John Nagle is also looking to establish a FinTech incubator in Yangon next year that will focus on spurring innovation to serve underbanked customers. According to Forbes, nearly 95 percent of the country’s population does not have a bank account.

Even so, Myanmar was ranked as the fourth fastest-growing mobile market in the world last year as well as the fastest-growing economy in 2016.

“We’re not trying to be a sort of classic VC,” Nagle told Forbes. “We want to be very specific and target unbanked communities in Southeast Asia.”

Nagle plans to evaluate startups for the incubator during Q1 2017 and start the program on April 1. The entrepreneurs selected are expected to think beyond traditional wallet or payment solutions, he noted, and instead look to create offerings that are both unique and meaningful in the market.

“I want [entrepreneurs] who say, ‘I have a new idea, and I need your network to help me,’” Nagle added.

Another FinTech company looking to serve the underserved segments of Southeast Asian economies is Ascend Money, which recently shared that it now serves 20 million customers across the region but has a goal to reach 100 million by 2020.

“We believe that financial services are basic human rights,” Punnamas Vichitkulwongsa, CEO of Ascend Money, told Forbes, adding that the company’s biggest challenge is found in helping skeptical consumers get past their reservations about financial organizations.