When it comes to fintech, Myanmar has a lot of catching up to do. With a little over a dozen companies compared to about 150 in Vietnam, and over 490 in Singapore, the Burmese fintech sector still trails far behind the rest of Asia. But with a government committed to improving financial inclusion and rapid mobile growth, the sector is poised to take off.
To get a clearer view of the Burmese fintech industry, we look today at four fintech startups to watch closely this year. These have made notable strides over the past year, inking new partnership deals and expanding rapidly, and are set to witness further growth in 2020.
For this list, we focus on homegrown fintech startups headquartered in Myanmar, and exclude foreign companies with operations in the country. These include, for example, Ongo, a mobile wallet from Ireland, Micromoney, a blockchain startup headquartered in the Seychelles, and NearMe, a mobile payments app operated by Singaporean company 2C2P.
Founded in July 2018, Mother Finance is a non-bank financial institution licensed by the Central Bank of Myanmar that specializes in digital lending.
Mother Finance provides the country’s first mobile app-based online lending solution. It started out offering employee loans, and introduced small loans and small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) loans in 2019. These loans range from K 50,000 (US$35) for small loans to K 50 million (US$35,000) for SME loans. Mother Finance uses a technology that automates the underwriting process in real time using thousands of alternative data signals.
Mother Finance recently partnered with NearMe, a mobile payments app, to provide unsecured SME loans to NearMe’s agent and partner network. NearMe currently has over 50,000 partner stores nationwide. Mother Finance will also be gathering transaction data from the agents in order to improve its services.
As of March 2020, Mother Finance had more than 60,000 registered users and issued over K 3 billion (US$2.1 million) in loans.
Mother Finance is part of Yangon-based Mother Group, a local business conglomerate involved mainly in construction, manufacturing and trade.
Founded in 2015, Wave Money, by Digital Money Myanmar, is a mobile financial services brand, providing a platform targeting the unbanked population in Myanmar. It was the first company to be regulated under the Mobile Financial Services Regulation and to secure a license from the Central Bank of Myanmar.
Wave Money offers services, including remittances, utility payments, phone airtime purchase and top-ups, and various other digital payments, on its platform and through a network of over 57,000 Wave shops across the country.
This year, Wave Money partnered with 2C2P, a Southeast Asian business-to-business (B2B) payments platform, extending its footprint into merchants across airline, hotels and other retail community.
Wave Money is a joint venture between Telenor, Yoma Bank and Singapore Exchange listed Yoma Strategic Holdings.
Impact Terra provides its services through the Golden Paddy Platform, consisting of a mobile application, web application and a Facebook page.
Farmers connect to the platform via the Golden Paddy mobile app. The platform provides advice, alerts, a chat, product and shop profiles, financing options and other personalized content to farmers while enabling service providers and knowledge institutes to directly connect with them. Content is powered by crop prediction models, financial profiling, satellite-based insights, external APIs and content management systems.
Impact Terra raised US$3 million in March 2018.
Founded in late-2017, KyoPay Technologies (KyoPay) is an online marketplace for invoice receivables that connects SMEs in need of liquidity to third-party funders.
The platform is open to any local company in Myanmar who wishes to secure cash using their invoice receivables (30 – 120 day terms) as collateral. Through the platform, they can auction these at a discount to secure cash. Those who buy the invoices earn about 2% – 3% monthly, the company says.
KyoPay is a joint initiative by Anthem Asia, an independent investment firm, and Acudeen Technologies, an established fintech company from the Philippines behind the country’s first online marketplace platform for invoice discounting in the country.
Last year, KyoPay partnered with IKBK Insurance to test out the startup’s platform for a series of pilot transactions.