Myanmar's best bank for SMEs 2018: CB Bank
A vast army of small and medium-sized enterprises form the heart, gut and soul of this frontier market. In an overwhelmingly cash-based economy, SMEs make up 90% of all businesses, few of which have access to formal banking services. But a few lenders are spearheading a drive to bring banking to small business owners, led by Yangon-based CB Bank.
Founded in 1992, the lender sees small firms as an important economic pillar for the development of the country. The key to its SME operations is its clear-minded focus on digital excellence. It was an early champion of point-of-sale machines, rolling them out across the country, and has led the boom in mobile agents. CB Bank has 1,100 such agents dotted around the country, usually pillars of the local community who act as trusted financial intermediaries, allowing a farmer or small trader to send money via an agent to a CB Bank branch in the nearest town or city, to pay for anything from seeds to consumer goods to workers.
It was the first bank, in alliance with the finance ministry, to introduce a credit guarantee insurance scheme, helping small firms to take out loans of up to K20 million ($15,000). In 2017, it finalized a deal with Germany’s KfW, enabling it to extend corporate loans of up to €4.45 million at low rates of interest.
CB Bank has two SME centres, in Mandalay and Yangon, geared toward smaller firms; the bank aims to expand that number to 20 in the medium term.