Western Union launches outbound money transfer service in Myanmar

Patricia Riingen, Western Union's senior vice president for Southeast Asia and Oceania,(left) at a press conference in Yangon(Photo-Myanmar Eleven)

WESTERN UNION, a global payment services provider, has launched Myanmar’s first outbound money-transfer service, three years after launching inbound services.

Patricia Riingen, the firm's senior vice president for Southeast Asia and Oceania, said the target consumers would be people aged from 25 to 60 who are active on social media and have international exposure (either directly or through family).

She expected to receive a lot of transactions for family support, education or conference fees, medical fees, gifts or donations, though she declined to reveal the expected transaction value due to the firm's policy.

"We have been offering our inbound services since 2013. Myanmar performed quite well in terms of growth last year. Our outbound service in Myanmar is still at the introductory stage. So we are willing to work with our agents to create awareness about the services. We project a modest growth as the service becomes known and people become familiar with the services we provide. We will certainly take a look at all the opportunities to expand," she said.

Myanmar people can now send money to over 200 countries and territories through nine agent banks in Myanmar - KBZ Bank, CB Bank, Aya Bank, Yoma Bank, Myanmar Oriental Bank, First Private Bank, Global Treasure Bank, Myanmar APEX Bank, and United Amara Bank. Services will be first available in Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw. They can transfer up to US$3,000 per day (Bt105,000) but the annual maximum is set at $10,000.

Riingen said that fast, reliable and convenient money transfers could boost the nation's economic growth and promote trade, as they provide opportunities for cross-border trade and payments.

"Myanmar is one of the fastest-growing economies in the region. We are quite optimistic about the growth prospects of Myanmar's financial and banking sector.

"However, there is a lot to be done in terms of financial inclusion since less than 5 per cent of the population uses banking.

"Every decision we make and market we enter is guided by the purpose to move money better. We can move money better here in Myanmar, as we have the platform to support the country's needs in money transfer," she said.

Riingen said that the firm ran several tests before it launched the service in Myanmar. She considered Internet connection as an issue in Myanmar. However, as the required bandwidth to operate the system is very minimal, it is not much of an issue, she added.

According to the World Bank's Migration and Remittances Factbook 2016, Myanmar migrants remitted $3.5 billion to Myanmar in 2015, which was 4.8 per cent of the country's gross domestic product. Western Union's inbound service showed most transfers originated in Thailand, Malaysia, Bangladesh, the US, and Pakistan. Besides, the firm also sees remittances coming from the Middle East.