How You Can #GoCashless in Yangon

Disclaimer: The following thoughts are my own and they do not represent any organization or company.

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Credit: Michael Mong / Shutterstock.com

A quick glance at the ecosystem

Before we go deep dive on how you can #GoCashless, I want to establish some context on the payment space in Myanmar in general. Here are the different ways to you can pay without cash in Yangon -

KBZ Pay

Recently, KBZ announced that they had passed 2 million registered users (but not sure what the actual active user base is) in 6 months. In comparison, a digital bank in the UK called Monzo took 3+ years to get to 2 million. They leveraged on the very fact that they are the largest bank with 15,000+ employees by assigning aggressive consumer/merchant acquisition target to each and every employee including their CEO. Due to such acquisition, KBZPay probably has the widest merchant acceptance network.

WaveMoney / WavePay

These guys have the largest agent network with 47,000 agents across Myanmar. They recently rebranded their mobile application as WavePay to facilitate payments. It seems like Wave is focusing more on remittance and online payments as opposed to merchant payments.

CB Pay

CB Bank replaced its mobile banking app with CB Pay. That is how much they are betting on mobile wallets and payments. At the moment, you would still need to, physically, visit one of their branches to open a bank account. But this is a one-time event and you can use your bank account as a mobile wallet afterward.

TrueMoney

These guys came early into the market but have not yet achieved strong presence until recently. Their agent network for remittance started growing again.

AGD Pay

A similar proposition to CB Pay where you need to have a bank account with them in order to be using AGD Pay.

Visa / mastercard / JCB / UnionPay Debit and Credit Cards

There are no official statistics on the consumer adoption rate. But in Yangon, they have quite a good network of merchants.

MPU

If you have a bank account, there is a high possibility that you have an MPU card. The card’s also accepted in Yangon in key locations.

Closed-loop systems

The biggest grocery retailer launched a loyalty mobile app which also has a top-up function with an ability to make cashless payments by scanning their proprietary QR code. Plus, you get additional points for making that transaction too.

My attempt at going cashless (again!) after 2 years

I have not yet been to the ATM machine in approximately 40 days which basically means that I have not yet had a single kyat in my wallet for the last 40 days. Okay, I am going to put a disclaimer here first before I get accused of being misleading. I have paid 5% of my transactions in the last 40 days in cash but without having to withdraw any money from the ATM machine. Here’s how I did it.

Using my Visa card

I have been using my Visa card (Mine’s a Myanmar Kyat credit card) quite intensively even before this experiment. I get slapped with the MDR surcharge from merchants sometimes but I have encountered that significantly lesser than before. I love the fact that I am able to review what I spent on and where I spent on by looking at my card statement at the end of the month. I noticed that the acceptance network in Yangon had widened significantly in the last two years and I am able to make payments in the majority of places that I frequent to — malls, restaurants, retailers and etc. The great thing is 95% of the time, it works. There is still that 5% where POS machines would be having connectivity issues. But compared to the last 2 years where poor cashiers had to put up the machine in the air to get connectivity, it is much better now. The most liberating experience is where I am able to take taxis through Grab via my Visa card. It saves so much time and energy not having to deal with small notes. Additionally, I get double Grab reward points which I use daily to make my rides cheaper.

Using mobile wallets instead of cash

On top of my Visa card, I have also been using one of the mobile wallets quite regularly. I find that there are a lot of micro-SMEs who already accept different forms of mobile wallets. I now use my mobile wallet to pay every single time I visit my favorite café.

The cashless future

Regardless of the challenges aforementioned, I find that my cashless experience, so far, has been extremely pleasing. Between these two methods, I was able to stay away from the ATMs for the last 40 days and I am going to continue to try and stay that way.

Forbes 30 Under 30 / Founder at nexlabs / FinTech / Digital Transformation / Experience Design / Myanmar

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