Interview with: Vincent Ling
Deputy General Manager UnionPay Southeast Asia
Can you tell us more about UnionPay?
“UnionPay is a global payment brand that serves the world’s largest cardholder base with over 7 billion cards issued worldwide. Our cards are accepted in 174 countries and regions across the world and are issued in 52 countries and regions. As leaders in the payment brand sector, we work to bring innovative payment solutions to Cardholders around the world while also being focused on realizing the vision of a cashless society by connecting consumers, businesses and financial institutions through digital payments via our global network.
How long has UnionPay been in Myanmar? UnionPay has been issuing cards in Myanmar since 2014.
What are the services of UnionPay? As an international payment brand, UnionPay offers customers in Myanmar local and cross-border payment services as well as many valued-added services. UnionPay cardholders can withdraw cash from ATMs, make payments in-store or online. UnionPay also offers mobile payment services, enabling cardholders to make payments by tapping UnionPay cards/mobile phones or scanning QR codes. UnionPay also offers a variety of privileges to Cardholders. Depending on their card type – Classic, Gold, Platinum or Diamond, Cardholders can receive benefits such as discounts at merchants including restaurants, supermarkets, hotels, airlines, gym, food and beverage and more.
What is your opinion on banking and financial services industry in Myanmar?
There have been great strides made in the banking and financial industry in Myanmar in recent years and like many other players in this arena, we are looking forward to helping the country move toward becoming a cashless society. At UnionPay we value the role that education and financial literacy play in helping cardholders and potential cardholders make informed financial decisions. Our hope with the recent launch of our Payments and Finance Handbook, “UnionPay’s Guide to Making Life Easier,” is that it will further the development of the country’s cashless payment ecosystem by providing the knowledge and tools necessary for people to make informed decisions when it comes to payment methods.
What are the main barriers in this industry? According to the World Bank’s Findex Report, Myanmar currently has a 26% ‘banked’ population wherein the majority of transactions are still cash-based. At UnionPay, we are trying to change this. We currently work with bank partners and hope to see more partnerships in the future. Going cashless has a lot to do with changing people’s perceptions and attitudes, that is why we want to help educate the people of Myanmar to change behavior and move toward a less cash-reliant society.
Under what circumstances do you think this digital payment industry would improve?
In order for digital payment solutions, such as the use of QR Code and mobile wallets, to become more widely accepted, there needs to be a greater understanding of the benefits of such solutions. In Myanmar, we see great opportunity for this type of technology to be implemented, especially considering the penetration of smart phone’s users increasing around the country. However, we also believe that the best and most effective way we can achieve long-term success in this area is by encouraging the coming together of key stakeholders, including merchants, governments, regulators, financial institutions, telecommunication providers and banks to work toward a shared goal of improved digital payments.