Visa’s Blog – Visa Viewpoints


Jun 6, 2013


Advancing Financial Inclusion on the Global Stage: WEF East Asia

Around the world, Visa is driving financial inclusion and increasing financial literacy among the underserved through our products, services and network; strategic partnerships and educational programs. Visa also actively contributes to the global conversation about how to best address financial inclusion and meet the needs of the underserved. This week, Visa is joining leaders in the financial inclusion community for the World Economic Forum (WEF) on East Asia in Myanmar, IDB Base II Forum in Colombia, and the 8th Annual Underbanked Financial Services Forum in the United States to discuss the global imperative to reach full financial inclusion.

At the WEF on East Asia event in Myanmar, Visa is participating in a variety of activities aimed at bringing attention to the un- and under-served populations throughout the region.

Stephen Kehoe, Head of Corporate Relations, Asia Pacific, Central Europe, the Middle East and Africa (APCEMEA) led a discussion at a financial inclusion luncheon for members of the financial services industry. Leaders discussed the major issues constraining the availability and access to financial services around the region and presented what policies needed to increase the level of financial inclusion. The group explored host country Myanmar as a use-case, identifying what steps could be taken to build a more inclusive system.

Today, Peter Maher, Group Country Manager, Southeast Asia spoke at the session titled “Moving from a Cash to a Banked Economy.” Peter discussed how Myanmar can build the foundation for an inclusive and robust financial system, highlighting Visa’s financial inclusion story to share best practices for shifting from cash-based activity to electronic payments. You can read his post on the World Economic Forum blog, where he discusses Myanmar’s opportunity to expand access to mobile services as a way to reach widespread financial inclusion.

On Friday, Visa will host a financial inclusion thought leader discussion. Gordon Cooper, Visa’s Head of Emerging Market Solutions, APCEMEA, will join the dialogue, exploring what solutions can serve as catalysts in transforming Myanmar and East Asian economies.

While at the event, Erin Steinhauer, Visa’s Head of Corporate Social Responsibility for APCEMEA, talked to The Wall Street Journal’s Duncan Mavin and Shibani Mahtani about Visa’s efforts to promote financial inclusion not only in Myanmar, but throughout Asia Pacific, Africa and across the globe.

To learn more about Visa’s global effort to advance financial inclusion, visit our new Financial Inclusion Interactive Map.


Posted by: Douglas Sabo, Visa Corporate Responsibility on June 6, 2013 at 12:34 pm

Jun 5, 2013

Postcards From WEF East Asia: Upgrading Myanmar’s Financial Systems

Peter Maher, Group Country Manager, Southeast Asia at Visa, shares his thoughts on Myanmar’s opportunity to upgrade its financial systems and advance financial inclusion across the country in an article for the World Economic Forum Blog.

Maher points out that Myanmar is in a unique position to shift its largely cash-based economy into one that’s driven by electronic payments and formal financial services. Since the physical infrastructure for its financial system is broadly underdeveloped, Myanmar has the opportunity to start with a clean slate, and adopt best practices and approaches right for its marketplace.

Maher shares some lessons learned from countries such as Bangladesh and Rwanda, where Visa has developed partnerships and seen positive movement toward reaching more widespread financial inclusion.

To learn more about how Visa is helping to advance financial inclusion around the globe, visit the new Financial Inclusion Interactive Map.


Posted by: Douglas Sabo, Visa Corporate Responsibility on June 5, 2013 at 3:09 pm

Jun 5, 2013

Postcards from East Asia World Economic Forum: Financial Inclusion in Myanmar

Our participation in the East Asia World Economic Forum (here in the Myanmar capital, Nay Pyi Taw) kicked off with a lunchtime discussion on how to advance financial inclusion in the region. Interesting table discussions featured a healthy mix of senior representatives from governments, private sector and NGOs and offered great opportunity for Visa to talk about our ideas and product solutions, especially mobile.

Inevitably much of the discussion centered on Myanmar itself, where the government is facing multiple infrastructure and regulatory challenges at the same time. With a huge unbanked sector and a very low penetration of mobile (around 4%) it’s going to take a long time for mobile banking to be a viable solution and so all parties are going to have to focus on alternative near term solutions.

Nonetheless, the government seems really committed to learning how to make progress. The minister of finance, who was an active table discussion participant, proved to be incredibly thoughtful in his approach which is consistent with how we have found working with the government to this point.

No doubt, huge amount of work to be done but, as in Rwanda, having a government and banking sector which is set on making progress despite the challenges is half the battle. Combine this with Visa’s early success in hooking up ATMs and signing up more than 350 merchants over the last six months and it seems clear that Myanmar is set to be another electronic payments success story.


Posted by: Stephen Kehoe, Head of Corporate Relations, APCEMEA on June 5, 2013 at 9:25 am

Apr 10, 2013

Next Stop, Myanmar! Travel Tips for Navigating a Cash-Based Economy

In a cash-based economy like Myanmar, even frequent travelers may need to adjust some of their usual travel habits. Here are some practical tips that cover everything from hiring cars to obtaining local currency through ATMs, and are designed to ensure that travelers who want to get the most out of their journey are well prepared.

Click on the infographic below to  get some  helpful hints from Visa’s travel and tourism experts:


Posted by: Lucas Mast, Visa Corporate Relations on April 10, 2013 at 7:08 pm