Alibaba, Myanmar conglomerate Yoma team up on mobile payments to serve unbanked

19, May. 2020

Photo by Isabel Retamales on Unsplash
Photo by Isabel Retamales on Unsplash

YANGON, NNA – Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group and Myanmar conglomerate Yoma Strategic Holdings Ltd. has teamed up on mobile payment services for unbanked and underbanked people in Southeast Asia’s emerging economy.

Ant Financial Services Group, the operator of Alipay, the Chinese group’s payment service, will buy newly issued shares equivalent to around a 33 percent stake in Myanmar’s largest mobile payment services provider, Digital Money Myanmar Ltd., for $73.5 million, they said in a joint statement on Monday.

Digital Money Myanmar, a joint venture between Norway’s Telenor Group and Yoma, operates Wave Money, a leading mobile financial service in Myanmar.

After the completion of the capital injection, the schedule for which was not disclosed, Yoma group will hold a 32.9 percent stake in Digital Money Myanmar, while Telenor and Ant Financial will own about half of the remaining stake, according to the Myanmar conglomerate.

For Wave Money, the operator runs a network of more than 57,000 agents or “Wave Shops” in urban and rural areas across 295 out of 330 townships nationwide, covering nearly 90 percent of the country.

In 2019, Wave Money’s transfer volume more than tripled from the previous year, reaching $4.3 billion, the statement said, adding that revenues and transactions also tripled.

More than 21 million people have used Wave Money’s platform for remittances, utility payments, airtime top-ups and digital payments. Since its launch in October 2018, its monthly active user base has been increasing steadily at 14 percent month-on-month, according to the statement.

Ant Financial and Digital Money Myanmar said in the statement that they expect the strategic partnership to “promote financial inclusion for unbanked and underbanked communities” in Myanmar.

“Ant Group’s expertise in mobile payment and digital financial services will help boost Wave Money’s technological capabilities to provide greater convenience and security in mobile financial services across Myanmar,” they added

Alipay is an online payment service launched in 2004. As of the end of June 2019, Alipay, together with its strategic e-wallet partners, serves 1.2 billion global users.