Rakuten Viber wants to expand its services in Myanmar beyond calling and instant messaging to incorporate payments, transfers and e-commerce, its chief executive, Djamel Agaoua, told the Myanmar Times during a recent interview.
With more than three quarters of total internet users in Myanmar actively using Viber, Agaoua believes the mobile application has good potential to grow in the local market.
“Viber is a popular application in Myanmar. Almost all local smart phone users are on Viber. We’ve already initiated e-commerce tie-ups in the US and Europe and can now start providing e-commerce services anywhere in the world,” he said.
Just last week, Wirecard, a payments provider listed in Germany, said it is working with Rakuten Viber to launch a new money transfer service, Moneytou - powered by Mastercard, for Viber users, allowing them to send money securely to each other through the app. The payment service will be launched in Hungary, followed by other Eastern European markets in the first phase.
In Myanmar though, the current setback is the lack of support to make the service viable. “In Myanmar, there is so far no proper e-commerce system. To launch an e-commerce platform in Myanmar, we will need to do so in collaboration with other e-commerce firms along the value chain,” Agaoua said.
Viber is a free messaging and calling application available on Android, iPhone and iPad, Microsoft Windows, MacOS and Linux. It has over one billion users worldwide and the number is growing by 20 percent each year, the firm said.
Notably, all Viber calls and chats are protected by built-in end-to-end encryption, so all messages and conversations are always secure.
Viber was acquired by Japanese e-commerce firm Rakuten in 2014. It now claims that half the world population uses Viber. The app was introduced in Myanmar in 2010 and currently runs with just five local staff in the country. But that could change as the company expands.
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