Cellum has always been open about its ambitions in emerging Asian markets. While the perception in the West regarding mobile payments is often one of “I don’t need yet another way to pay”, there are genuine problems to solve in countries where payment cards are still considered a curiosity and/or a privilege of a select few.
Our CEO János Kóka was recently given the honor of opening the 2nd annual Fintech & E-Commerce Conference in Yangon, Myanmar, which is one of the most talked about frontier markets in the world. So much so that we believe it may soon take over the decade-long position of Kenya as the go-to example for digital financial transformation. Kóka pointed out how all the necessary components of a successful fintech revolution have aligned themselves to create the unique opportunity for the country to leapfrog directly to using digital financial services.
A previously closed country, Myanmar has shocked the world with incredible growth numbers following its transition to an open market economy, with their telecommunications industry in particular quickly catching up with the developed world in just a few short years. The country of 54 million added 10 million new mobile subscribers in the past 12 months. With 80% of mobile devices being smartphones and a sizable young generation open to adopting a new digital lifestyle, the country is ripe for a successful digital transformation.
In his keynote at the conference, Kóka, who is also former Hungarian Minister of Economy, spoke about the trends, opportunities and challenges of mobile payments in the frontier markets. He pointed out that the absence of traditional banking infrastructure makes Myanmar a prime market for fintech, as the country is unbound by legacy systems. About a quarter of the country now has access to the internet, with 70% of all traffic going through phones. In contrast, payment card usage is below 1% and cash is still the dominant payment option.
According to Kóka, the fintech industry has an unprecedented opportunity to solve the issue of financial inclusion in what is currently one of the hottest emerging markets in the world. Based on the experiences gained in other countries such as Hungary, India and Indonesia, Cellum has proposed to the government, leading financial institutions and mobile network operators the setting up of a national mobile payment system in Myanmar that will make the country the new leader in fintech.
Kóka’s keynote went beyond just payments, giving an overview of current trends such as virtual reality and chatbots, and also introducing the audience to mobile ID and authentication.
“Cellum enables key players of the financial and telecommunications industries with the latest secure mobile transaction technologies. We are here to support them in Myanmar, one of the hottest fintech markets of the world. The country now has the potential to make a leapfrog by embracing the latest and most innovative digital payment options,” said Cellum CEO Dr. János Kóka.