Payments Services Space in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar (CLM), and Vietnam: Growth Opportunities Revealed
Market potential for payments in all 4 countries indicates favorable investment opportunities
China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) launched in 2013 aims to boost global trade connectivity and cross-border transactions between China and countries on the new Silk Road, including Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar (collectively called as CLM), and Vietnam. It is expected to enhance financial cooperation in the region, and eventually bolster the growth of the payments industry in these countries. Besides Vietnam, we expect Myanmar and Cambodia to have the highest growth, while in Laos, the payments industry is still in the early stages of evolution due to the underdevelopment infrastructure. The focus of foreign investments into the industry is mainly on Vietnam, followed by Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos.
Growing numbers of youth and tech-savvy people who move from rural areas to the city are expected to support payments growth in CLM and Vietnam. The payments ecosystem is still fragmented in most countries. Consumers are likely to use the most popular service in their community but might need to use another service in another location. Most payments solutions are targeted at a mass population, typically those in urban areas. The solutions, therefore, are not relevant for the untapped population beyond the mass market such as the elder generation and rural residents, which may pose a huge market opportunity.
The high unbanked proportion of the population in CLM has compelled many digital payments providers to release user-friendly payments services that enable customers without bank accounts to withdraw, remit, and make payments leveraging the mobile service technology. Moreover, the limited infrastructure remains a challenge for payments providers. Hence, a solution offering innovative payments services without the need for bank accounts becomes more meaningful in providing financial services to the underserved market.