Vodafone, China Mobile Look to Bring M-PESA to Myanmar (April 15, 2013)
The M-Pesa mobile money transfer service could be coming to Myanmar, thanks to a joint bid by Vodafone and China Mobile. The companies are among 12 groups being considered by the Myanmar government for one of two licenses to operate a mobile network in the Southeast Asian nation, according to a report in the Financial Times. With a population of more than 60 million—just 10 percent of whom use mobile phones—Myanmar is considered a major growth opportunity for mobile at large, and mobile payments could follow close behind.
If its joint bid with China Mobile is accepted, Vodafone will plan to replicate in Myanmar the success M-Pesa has enjoyed since launching in Kenya in 2007. By late 2011, the service was being used for money transfer and payments by more than 70 percent of the country’s adult population, according to the International Monetary Fund. The service met with similar success in Afghanistan and Tanzania, and was expanded to India late last year.
Myanmar’s government has set a goal of establishing two privately operated national mobile networks within two years, and will announce the winning bids in June. Other bidders include Qatari telecom provider Ooredoo and a group backed by George Soros’ Quantum Strategic Partners.
For more on Vodafone, check out an interview with the company’s mobile payments director Michael Joseph, featured in the spring issue of Pay Magazine, coming in May.