Ant Financial is to pour $73.5 million into mobile financial services provider Wave Money as part of an initiative to promote financial inclusion for the unbanked in Myanmar.
The cash injection will give the Chinese firm a substantial minority stake in the Wave Money joint venture between Telenor Group and the Yoma Group.
Wave Money 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 approximately 89% of the country.
In 2019, Wave Money’s transfer volume more than tripled year-on-year reaching $4.3 billion as the firm moved into Ebitda positive territory. During the same period, revenue and transaction numbers also tripled.
More than 21 million people have used Wave Money’s platform including Wave Pay for remittances, utility payments, airtime top-ups and digital payments. Since its launch in October 2018, Wave Pay’s monthly active user base has been increasing steadily at 14% per month-on-month.
The firm's business volumes are expected to be boosted by current Myanmar Government plans to increase financial inclusion in the country from its current 48% to 60% by 2023, with mobile financial technology expected to play a significant role in this growth.
Brad Jones, CEO, Wave Money, says: "Myanmar is ready for mass adoption of digital payments with a connected population and high smartphone penetration. This partnership will be transformative for Wave Money and Myanmar.”
In November last year, Ant Financial outlined plans to raise $1 billion for a fund to pump money into fintech startups in the payments and online finance space in South East Asia and India. The fund is in line with Ant's policy of expanding outside of China, where its growth is slowing in the face of stiff competition from Tencent and others.
As part of the agreement with Wave Money, the joint venture will utilise Ant Group’s expertise in mobile payments and digital financial services to strengthen its technological capabilities.
Eric Jing, executive chairman, Ant Group, comments: "The partnership will enable Wave Pay to tap into the experience of Alipay to promote financial inclusion and better serve the unbanked and underbanked individuals and SMEs in Myanmar."