Updated: Jun 21, 2020
The article first appeared in The Business Time on Monday 18 May 2020.
Reported by: Vivienne Tay
ALIPAY operator Ant Financial Services Group will invest US$73.5 million in Digital Money Myanmar (Wave Money) - a mobile payments joint venture (JV) between Telenor group and the Yoma group - as part of a strategic partnership to promote financial inclusion in Myanmar.
This will be for unbanked and underbanked communities in the country, mainboard-listed Yoma Strategic announced on Monday in a regulatory filing.
The partnership will allow Wave Money to leverage Ant Group's experience in building mobile payment platforms to enhance its digital competence, capabilities, user experience and service offerings.
Ant Group's investment will come by way of a new share issuance subject to certain conditions, including regulatory approval. The move will allow Ant Group to become a substantial minority stakeholder, alongside existing shareholders.
As at Nov 8, 2019, the Singapore-based units of Norwegian telecoms company Telenor held a 51 per cent interest in Wave Money. Yoma Strategic owned a 34 per cent stake in the JV, Yoma Bank held 5 per cent, while First Myanmar Investment Public Company owned 10 per cent.
Before Ant Group's investment in Wave Money, Yoma Strategic will acquire the 10 per cent held by First Myanmar, raising its stake to 44 per cent, as announced by Yoma Strategic last November.
Melvyn Pun, Yoma Strategic's chief executive, on Monday said Myanmar's population is still massively underserved by formal banking institutions, with only a quarter of people having a bank account.
He added: "The Covid-19 situation is accelerating the trend towards a cashless society and drives the growth of e-commerce, and we expect this strategic partnership to massively boost Wave Money's capabilities to support these trends."
Eric Jing, Ant Group's executive chairman, said: "The partnership will enable Wave Pay to tap the experience of Alipay to promote financial inclusion and better serve the unbanked and underbanked individuals and SMEs in Myanmar."
Yoma Strategic shares closed at 20.5 Singapore cents on Friday, up 0.8 cent or 4.1 per cent.
About Yoma Strategic Holdings Ltd.
Listed on the Main Board of the Singapore Securities Exchange Trading Limited (SGX-ST), Yoma Strategic Holdings Ltd. is a leading business corporation with a diversified portfolio of businesses in Real Estate (Yoma Land), Consumer, Automotive & Heavy Equipment, Financial Services and Investments in Myanmar. Together with its Yoma Group partners, Yoma Strategic is taking a conglomerate approach to build a diversified portfolio of businesses in Myanmar. The Company was ranked in the top 5% of the Governance and Transparency Index 2019, ranked 26th out of top 100 largest Singapore companies in the ASEAN Corporate Governance Scorecard 2017 and won the Best Managed Board (Gold) Award at the Singapore Corporate Awards in 2016.
About Wave Money Wave Money is the leading mobile financial services provider operating with over 57,000 Wave shops across Myanmar. Wave Money is a joint venture between Telenor, Yoma Bank and Singapore Exchange listed Yoma Strategic Holdings and provides easy, fast and reliable mobile financial services through a nationwide agent network. Wave Money introduced a unique way of transferring money, bringing millions of people in Myanmar access to formal financial services. Through Wave Money, thousands of people a day are sending money anywhere and at any time. The Wave Money call centre operates 24/7 and is always available to respond to any customer queries.
About Ant Group
Ant Financial Services Group (Ant Group) is dedicated to using technology to bring the world equal opportunities. Our technologies, including blockchain, artificial intelligence, security, Internet of Things and computing empower us and our ecosystem partners to serve the unbanked and underbanked, bringing more secure, transparent, cost-effective and inclusive financial services to individuals and small and micro-sized individual customer and small businesses worldwide.
Ant Group has formed international partnerships with global strategic partners to serve local users in those markets, and we serve Chinese travellers overseas by connecting Alipay with online and offline merchants. Brands under Ant Group include Alipay, Ant Fortune, MYbank, and WorldFirst. For more information, please visit our website at www.antfin.com or follow us on Twitter @AntFinancial.