Close on the heels of snapping up an strategic investment from National Bank of Canada, ONGO, a Myanmar-based mobile led digital payment firm owned by Ronoc Asia, is readying for a consumer service launch in 2017.
ONGO currently offers business-to-business services in Myanmar. “We have a very strong focus on business-to-business payments,” said Allen Gilstrap, CEO of ONG, Gilstrap also leads Ronoc Asia, a Singapore entity backed by private equity firm Ronoc.
Headquartered in Ireland, Ronoc has invested in a range of businesses from microfinance, retail banking, digital payments and mobile fintech.
Late last month, ONGO announced that the National Bank of Canada (NBC) has become a new strategic shareholder acquiring a 22 percent shareholding in Ronoc Asia.
NBC has previously co-invested with Ronoc in Tenger Financial Group headquartered in Mongolia whose subsidiaries include XacBank. NBC also owns a 90 percent controlling stake in ABA Bank of Cambodia, after making an additional investment of $103 million in May 2016.
“We look to tap some of their (NBC) experiences and scaling the financial service business as they have done successfully in other places,” said Gilstrap, adding, “we are looking to tap their expertise at the board level as we grow here in Myanmar.”
Over the next five years, Ronoc Asia will be looking to expand into six or seven markets in South East Asia, said Gilstrap.
“Myanmar is particularly exciting because it recently opened up and this was the first country in the world that moved directly from no mobile phones to smart phones and skipped the old feature phones,” he said.
In Myanmar, a number of mobile led financial service providers have sprung up. Telecom operators like Telenor has already launched Wave Money and Ooredoo will soon launch M-Pitesan, a mobile wallet. Others include Ascend Group backed Thailand based online payment company, True Money, MyPAY, partnership of AIM listed MySQUAR, OK Dollar, led by Internet Wallet Limited and 1-Stop, a partnership between Singapore-based payment service 2C2P and Myanma Awba.
“Honestly it is a huge market. There’s room for several companies to be successful here,” said Gilstrap.
Gilstrap, former CEO of digital payments service OpenRevolution, joined hands with Ronoc to formed Ronoc Asia in July 2015.
Myanmar Oriental Bank is the bank-licencing partner for ONGO to facilitate settlements for customers. ONGO services include airtime top ups, peer to peer money transfer, bill payments, payroll service among others.