Could you please introduce yourself?
Mingalarpar. I’m Kyawt Kay Khaing, and I currently hold the position of Deputy CEO at uab bank. Additionally, I serve as the CEO of uab Securities, which is a subsidiary of uab bank. In this role, I am primarily focused on overseeing and leading our Corporate Banking and Investment Banking operations. It’s a pleasure to be here today and share insights about our bank and the financial industry.
We understand that this year with be the 13th anniversary of the uab bank – what are some of the highlights of the 13 years and how has the bank done after 13 years?
The 13th anniversary of uab bank marks a significant milestone in our journey. The bank began its banking operations 13 years ago in Aug 16, 2010 and at that time we started with nothing on the ground – Ground Zero – and over the next 13 years would built our base, brick by brick and year after year, we grow from strength to strength. So, we are a bank that has not merely just sprung over-night, but an institution built on hard work, sacrifice and dedication over the last 13 years.
Over the last 3 years, since 2020, we have also understood the debt that we owe to our community and at every Anniversary celebration, we keep our internal celebrations minimal but spend the money through “uab foundation” on a Rice Donation. This year, we were able to distribute 40,000 bags of rice over about 90 locations. This distribution is done by all our employees and it gives them a huge sense of purpose during the celebration. One bag of rice, should be able to provide for 1 family for 1 week.
Over the 13 years, our financial performance also has also been healthy and so we have a sound balance sheet and a profitable business. We look forward to continuing our journey of growth, innovation, and community engagement in the years to come, reaffirming our commitment to being a responsible and compassionate corporate citizen in Myanmar.
The environment today is quite a challenging environment – how do you manage in such an environment?
In today’s challenging environment, uab bank has managed by staying adaptable, embracing innovation, and putting customers at the center of our strategy. We also focus on strong governance, community engagement, talent development, sustainability, and a long-term vision for sustainable growth. These principles help us navigate the dynamic business landscape effectively. Yes of course, our uabians play a big role in leading change in the industry. uab bank thrive through the collective efforts of our dedicated employees whom we fondly call “uabians”. Also in this environment, we need
prudence and wisdom. As a Bank, we have a several hundred thousand customers and so we have built our governance structure on sound principles so that in any type of circumstance, we will act responsibly and with safety for our customers in mind.
We note recent news of which your bank has called it “defamatory”- could you explain what these issues are about?
Our bank has come across some false and damaging information called “defamatory” circulating on social media. We want to set the record straight that Admiral Moe Aung is not a shareholder or owner of uab bank.
Also, uab bank is not under investigation by any authority. This was also confirmed by the authorities in The Global New Light of Myanmar publication on 28th August 2023. In fact, we have not been under any investigation by any authority over the last 13 years.
We want to emphasize that uab bank operates with the highest standards of corporate governance. Our management is independent and adheres strictly to the guidelines provided by the Central Bank. Our foreign currency transactions are conducted in line with the policies and instructions of the Central Bank of Myanmar’s online trading system. We take the spread of such false statements seriously and are prepared to take legal action if necessary.
It is important to understand that there is so much at stake with financial institutions and the ordinary person and small business place their life’s savings and are dependent on financial support from these financial institutions. It is therefore vital that statements be made responsibly and not speculatively.
Going digital is an area that banks cannot ignore – what progress has uab bank made with regard to going digital?
Indeed, the digital transformation is a crucial aspect of modern banking, and uab bank has made significant progress in this area, particularly with our banking operations and
our payment facilities.
Our e-wallet named uabpay, is a testament to our commitment to offering convenient and secure digital banking solutions to our customers. We are developing this into a “Super App”and it will support the customers to pay bills, transfer funds, and even make online purchases, all from the convenience of their smartphones. We have also recently introduced “Gold Investment” feature which enables the customers to invest in gold online, buy and sell via uabpay.
Our ATMs, can now take up both deposit and withdrawal functions and even cardless withdrawals. We have a project to enhance further machine assistance for service to Customers and will announce that soon.
Operations wise, we are working on reducing counter time for Customers who come to our branch counters by digitalizing processes and we are reducing paper storage by digitizing data.
Our other digital initiatives are designed to empower customers with the tools and flexibility they need to manage their finances efficiently and securely. We are excited about the future of digital banking and remain dedicated to providing cutting-edge solutions to enhance our customers’ banking experiences.
Tell us something about the awards that uab bank has been receiving?
There appears to be a number of international recognitions for a young bank? uab bank has consistently earned top honors in the banking industry. It was named “Myanmar’s Best Bank” by Euromoney for consecutive years, from 2019 to 2022. Additionally, it received recognition as the “Best Bank in Myanmar” by Global Finance in both 2021 and 2023. Notably, uab bank’s strong commitment to promoting good governance and transparency has been acknowledged by the Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business, which has consistently recognized it as the “Most Transparent Bank in Myanmar” since 2019.
While we are a relatively young bank, these international accolades reflect our ongoing commitment to excellence and our pursuit of being a leading institution in the industry. We take great pride in these achievements and remain committed to delivering top-notch banking services to our customers and stakeholders.
“Leading Change” appears to be an interesting phrase – what does it mean to your organisation?
“Leading Change” for our organisation, uab bank, signifies our dedication to innovation, adaptability, and customer-centricity. It means staying at the forefront of banking technology, being responsive to customer needs, and actively contributing to positive transformations in our industry and communities. We see it as our responsibility to lead responsibly, empower our employees, and adhere to a strategic vision for a better banking future.
In our organization, it is not only about leading change – but “the courage” to lead change.
Does the bank have projects in protecting the environment or on matters of future sustainability?
Sustainability is an important theme in our organization. Firstly, the sustainability of the bank itself is paramount and we are proud of our consistent financial performance over the years that allow the organisation to be sustainable.
We also deliberately contribute to the United Nation’s Sustainability Development goals with our home loans in provision of home financing and SME loans for the support of SMEs which is main engine for development.
Lending activity contributes 80% of the bank’s assets and we are consciously moving into environmentally friendly methods of financing and avoiding loans that will harm the environment. Recently we have started financing of solar projects and electrical vehicles.
Within the organization, we have looked at our carbon foot-print and working on controlling petrol, water and electricity consumption. Paper and plastic use is also being monitored.
We do have a Sustainability Report that we proudly post in our uab bank website.
Yes, indeed, the economic environment today is challenging but we still must have the courage to continue to go forward and seek to contribute to a sustainable future in whatever way we can.