Myanmar's best digital bank 2019: KBZ
Few banks dominate their own market like KBZ in Myanmar, which covers close to half of all banking transactions made in this young market. KBZ is the most advanced of Myanmar’s homegrown banks. Now with Asian banking stalwart Mike de Noma – a veteran Standard Chartered banker and former CTBC chief executive in Taiwan – installed at the helm, founder Aung Ko Win has shown that he wants the bank to vault ahead of the competition as the country embarks on deeper economic reform.
In March 2018, KBZ introduced a one-stop centre for Myanmar’s expanding small and medium-sized enterprises sector, covering a wide range of services from loan applications and customer matching to official compliance procedures. KBZ has been active in establishing a credit bureau for Myanmar’s SMEs. Although commonplace in most markets, a basic facility to determine creditworthiness is almost unknown in Myanmar.
On the digital front, it has been impossible to ignore KBZ this year, with the successful launch of KBZPay. While smartphone penetration is estimated at about 90%, Myanmar’s unbanked population is put at roughly 85%; KBZPay aims to bridge that digital divide.
In just six months from launch, the now ubiquitous KBZPay has attracted one million customers and 40,000 agents. The bank claims its digital retail customer base has grown 366% since launch. Digital remittances have almost doubled and bill payment through the app has grown near fivefold.
For the moment, functionality works best within the bank – and with a market share of more than 40%, KBZ has created a lucrative walled garden. But central bank initiatives to open digital platforms should mean Myanmar customers can soon move their cash around all banks: when that happens, the fast-moving KBZ will likely still dominate.
“Mobile banking is critical towards offering accessibility to financial services to all,” the bank says.