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Yoma Strategic's mobile payments JV ties up with Alipay operator Ant Financial

ALIPAY operator Ant Financial Services Group will invest US$73.5 million in Digital Money Myanmar (Wave Money) - a mobile payments joint venture (JV) between Telenor group and the Yoma group - as part of a strategic partnership to promote financial inclusion in Myanmar. (see amendment note)

This will be for unbanked and underbanked communities in the country, mainboard-listed Yoma Strategic announced on Monday in a regulatory filing. 

The partnership will allow Wave Money to leverage Ant Group's experience in building mobile payment platforms to enhance its digital competence, capabilities, user experience and service offerings.

Ant Group's investment will come by way of a new share issuance subject to certain conditions, including regulatory approval. The move will allow Ant Group to become a substantial minority stakeholder, alongside existing shareholders.

As at Nov 8, 2019, the Singapore-based units of Norwegian telecoms company Telenor held a 51 per cent interest in Wave Money. Yoma Strategic owned a 34 per cent stake in the JV, Yoma Bank held 5 per cent, while First Myanmar Investment Public Company owned 10 per cent.

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Before Ant Group's investment in Wave Money, Yoma Strategic will acquire the 10 per cent held by First Myanmar, raising its stake to 44 per cent, as announced by Yoma Strategic last November.

Melvyn Pun, Yoma Strategic's chief executive, on Monday said Myanmar's population is still massively underserved by formal banking institutions, with only a quarter of people having a bank account.

He added: "The Covid-19 situation is accelerating the trend towards a cashless society and drives the growth of e-commerce, and we expect this strategic partnership to massively boost Wave Money's capabilities to support these trends."

Eric Jing, Ant Group's executive chairman, said: "The partnership will enable Wave Pay to tap the experience of Alipay to promote financial inclusion and better serve the unbanked and underbanked individuals and SMEs in Myanmar."

Yoma Strategic shares closed at 20.5 Singapore cents on Friday, up 0.8 cent or 4.1 per cent.

Amendment note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the currency of Ant Financial's investment into Wave Money as Singapore dollars when it is in fact in US dollars. 

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