Interview with Brad Jones
Chief Executive Officer of Wave Money
Please introduce yourself and Wave Money to our readers.
Mingalarbar, I am Brad Jones, Chief Executive Officer of Wave Money. Wave Money is the leading mobile financial services provider in Myanmar, operating with a vision to advance greater financial inclusion in the country. Wave Money, as a product, is our over-the-counter financial service operating with over 64,000+ Wave Money shops across Myanmar. WavePay is a mobile wallet application that lets you live life your way, which you can use with your mobile phone anytime, anywhere in Myanmar. Through an extensive agent network covering 89% of the country, Wave Money is offering secure, convenient, reliable and extensive fintech services which includes Over-the-Counter services and WavePay mobile wallet. Wave Money pioneered mobile financial technology in Myanmar with 4,000 agents in 160 townships back in 2016. Today Wave Money has built the largest network with more than 64,000 agents across nationwide and more than 24 million of unique customer base for financial technology. We have a footprint in the 90% of rural areas including very remote locations of the country. Wave Money is now only 4 years old and yet we have created many inspiring stories along the journey.
How did you end up as the Chief Executive Officer of Wave Money?
I have been with Wave Money since its inception. It was May 2015 when I joined as CEO. Prior to that I worked for innovative projects in payments and technology, building multiple businesses from start-up to scale and driving digital transformation in financial services in South East Asia for the last fifteen years. I served as the founding Managing Director of Wing Cambodia, and senior innovation roles in Visa in Singapore.
What makes Wave Money different from other mobile financial services in Myanmar?
As a pioneer in the FinTech industry, Wave Money has been playing a pivotal role in Myanmar’s digital transformation, working tirelessly to innovate and drive greater financial inclusion among the country’s unbanked population. Wave Money began with 4,000 agents in 160 townships. Currently, thousands of people a day are sending money all over Myanmar and at any time from 64,000 Wave Money agents located in 295 townships nationwide. Unparalleled service and expertise, cutting-edge technology, and a strong network enable Wave Money to be the undisputed market leader and to maintain the trust of 24 million customers, merchants, government agencies, non-government and humanitarian organizations. Wave Money became EBITDA positive in August 2018, just two years after its launch and has continued to maintain its profitability. We ended 2019 with an annual remittance value 6.4 trillion Kyats ($4.3 billion USD)– equivalent to nearly 6% of Myanmar Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This amount is three times higher than the 2 trillion Kyats value in 2018. Wave Money paid out a total of 39 billion Kyats ($27 million USD) in agent commissions – more than the 22 billion Kyats ($ 15 Million USD) in commissions paid out in the first half of 2019. Inspired by a vision to create a fairer future for Myanmar, Wave Money is bringing the financial services to previously unbanked populations and underserved communities and sectors. Wave Money commits to ensure being a trusted digital financial services provider for our 24 million of customers and trusted partners of merchants, government agencies, Non-government Organizations and humanitarian organizations through comprehensive digital financial services with Wave Money and WavePay.
What is your transaction volume and what is your current market share?
From January to June this year, Wave Money moved a total of 4.9 Trillion Kyats [$3.4 billion] in remittance which annualised is over 10% of Myanmar’s gross domestic product (GDP) and represents a 93% increase from the same period last year. Total disbursements from government, humanitarian and non-government sectors grew to more than 800% compared to the same period last year. From January to June this year, the total disbursement from government and Non-government organizations reached 7.4 billion Kyats [$4,972,243]. Proud to say that throughout the journey, Wave Money has created sustainable livelihoods of mostly women by building the extensive agent network. Wave Money paid 39 Billion Kyats [US$ $27 Million] in agent commissions in the first six months of the year.
What changes happened after ANT Financial (Alibaba) became a shareholder?
Wave Money is always evolving with changes since our launch and we are boosting WavePay services and user’s experiences in this situation to help the community to be safe as mobile payments play a vital role amid COVID-19. Through this strategic partnership, we look forward to accelerating our digital journey with the support and expertise from Ant Group. 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. Ant Group is an innovative technology provider which brings financial inclusion to the world. We will accelerate the social impact partnership with government agencies, NGOs and humanitarian organizations. Since Myanmar has leapfrogged in the fintech industry and mass adoption of digital payments, Wave Money enables our customers to enjoy the most comprehensive digital financial services through our innovative mobile financial technology. Myanmar’s population is still massively underserved by formal banking institutions with only a quarter of people having a bank account. Ant Group brings a wealth of expertise in mobile payment and financial services. The COVID-19 situation is accelerating the trend towards a cashless society and drives the growth of ecommerce, and we expect this strategic partnership to massively boost Wave Money’s capabilities to support these trends. The Myanmar Government plans to increase financial inclusion in the country from its current 48% to 60% by 2023. With financial technology and mobile solutions expected to play a significant role in this growth, Wave Money will look to strengthen its interest in Myanmar’s digital financial services sector. Together with Ant Group, we will leverage our actions to greater financial inclusion by contributing to the government plans on financial inclusion in the country to reach up to 60 % by 2023 and we are on the way now.
How would you eliminate people from using Wave Money for fraudulent activities?
Wave Money services offer easy, fast and convenient mobile financial services anytime, anywhere while we are prioritizing the safety of their properties. This gives all parties in the payment process greater peace of mind. Wave Money has a mobile payment standard guideline to focus on two key objectives: securing the payments transaction itself and best practices for secure usage. As a company that emphasizes financial inclusion, Wave Money takes account of each customer’s security, so we will make sure none of our customers are left behind in receiving our important information like security awareness and digital literacy. That is why you can see our Wave Money official Facebook Page with blue marks which strongly communicate people for security and digital awareness strategically and systematically. We regularly deliver training, hold workshops and campaigns as well as support the technical requirements needed by all agents to improve their capacity on security and customer servicing. We have very strict standard guidelines not only for our agents, but also for our customers. In addition, our technical team works closely with our agents to ensure our customers are always protected and to ensure the best customer service……………..