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Myanmar's best digital bank 2017: CB Bank

CB Bank

In 2010, a mobile phone Sim card in Myanmar, one of the world’s poorest countries, cost around $2,000. Today, any mobile user can get connected for around $1, and hook up to a network that went from 7% coverage in 2012, to around 90% today, and much of it at least 3G. As local bankers lament, if only banking reform had moved as briskly as the telco industry in the new Myanmar.

But CB Bank, the former Co-Operative Bank, has moved briskly to bridge that gap with its ‘easibanking’ strategy. Leapfrogging into the digital era from banking practices more suitable for the 19th century, early adopter CB Bank claims a number of fintech firsts for Myanmar.

In 2011, it was the first Myanmar bank to open an ATM since the central bank shut such services off after a 2003 banking crisis. The following year, that ATM accepted international cards. Also in 2012, CB was the first to launch mobile and internet banking. In 2014 came mobile-based agent banking, and in 2015 came internet banking for Myanmar’s small and medium-sized enterprises.

Taking its cues from high-tech Singapore, CB Bank hopes to will get up to that country’s speed no later than 2020 – that is if the ultra-cautious central bank allows it.