Myanmar nationals in Singapore will be able to send money home using mobile wallet Singtel Dash from March, under a new grant agreement signed yesterday.
Singtel will work with banks, mobile wallets and cash pick-up services in Myanmar to set up safe and affordable ways for recipients to withdraw their money, as part of the three-year agreement between the telco and the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF).
The initiative aims to improve access to formal and legitimate remittance channels for Myanmar citizens as part of the UNCDF's Shaping Inclusive Finance Transformations (Shift) programme, Singtel said.
The programme promotes financial inclusivity in the least developed countries in the Mekong region and South Asia.
Singtel noted that many people in Myanmar currently receive money through "informal channels such as unlicensed agents, which could be time-consuming, expensive and unsafe".
According to a World Bank report, Myanmar nationals working abroad sent home some US$6.2 billion (S$8.4 billion) in 2017. More than 180,000 currently live or work in Singapore.
Singtel Dash users can send money to the Philippines, Indonesia, India, Bangladesh and China.
Users do not need to subscribe to Singtel's telephone or broadband services to use it.
Singtel's International chief executive Arthur Lang said its initiative in Myanmar serves "both the domestic and cross-border needs of our customers".
"This sets us apart from the myriad of mobile wallets available in Singapore," he added.
Currently, more than 250 million adults in Asean do not have bank accounts, Mr Lang said, adding: "With the rapidly growing number of smartphone users, we see tremendous opportunities to provide financial services at affordable rates to people and small businesses in the region."
Remittance rates will be competitive, he said.
Ms Win Mong, 23, a foreign domestic worker from Myanmar who has been working in Singapore for two years, hopes to use the service so she does not have to wait at a remittance agency at Lucky Plaza.
"Travelling to Orchard Road from my (workplace) can take about 40 minutes, and it's another 10 minutes' waiting time," she said.
The new agreement is also in line with Singtel's push to lead the growing but fragmented e-payment market as it looks to grow in new areas.
According to its latest company results published in November, Singtel's second-quarter net profit last year plunged 77 per cent on the previous year to $667 million, its lowest quarterly earnings in 15 years.
Last October, Singtel launched a cross-border digital payment network that allows anyone with Singtel Dash to pay for items outside Singapore.
The network kicked off with more than 1.6 million merchants in Thailand, and is expected to roll out in other countries such as Indonesia, India and the Philippines.