Mobile money services make waves in Myanmar
By Elliot Wilson
Brad Jones wasn’t sure what to expect when he moved to Yangon in early 2015 to become chief executive of a two-year-old fintech outfit with high hopes of revolutionizing mobile financial services in one of Asia’s poorest countries.
His new employer, Wave Money, a joint venture between Norwegian telecoms operator Telenor and Yoma Bank, one of Myanmar’s best private lenders, had all the right credentials.
Jones, a cheery Australian with “infinite patience so long as he gets his way” as one close contact notes, was clearly the right man for the job. His CV was line-perfect, given that he was head of business transformation at National Australia Bank, a former director of mobile money and innovation at Visa in Singapore, and adviser to the IFC on payments systems in emerging Asia.
To clinch it all, in 2007 he founded Wing Cambodia, an ANZ-backed mobile money provider that processed more than $6 billion in payments in 2017 in the tiny frontier market. He couldn’t wait to get started.
“I’ve been around this emerging payments space in Asia for 10 years, and Wing was a great experience,” he tells Asiamoney. “But Myanmar was a far more exciting market than Cambodia, geographically and in terms of scale, and a chance to work with great partners.”
Photo courtesy of Jaume Escofet.