Myanmar is experiencing a technological revolution. With a rapid growth in technology, the country went online almost overnight. People in Myanmar are benefiting from this advancing tech in their everyday lives.
All private and government-owned traditional newspapers are adapting to the current trend by having digital versions of their papers on digital channels. To increase interaction with readers, most of the news media post their digital content on their own Facebook pages, then linked to their websites. Some media organizations, such as 7Day and The Voice, developed mobile apps for their publications. The digitization of news allows readers to instantly access breaking news in both Myanmar and English languages via Facebook, websites and mobile apps.
Today, our entertainment circle is wider than ever before. Due to the growth of mobile electronic devices, TVs are not the only option for the entertainment at home. News, which was once available only in newspapers or magazines, is now on WebTV, allowing people to access live news updates. Today, people can tune into the radio online and watch TV programs via mobile apps or Facebook. Entertainment companies are offering their services to users using this new technology. We can now stream TV shows, dramas, movies, comedies and cartoons from all over the world just a click on a smartphone or a laptop. Moreover, playing online international games on mobile devices has become a popular pastime in Myanmar.
As technology advances in Myanmar, so does transportation. Local start-ups, such as Oway Ride*, introduced a very new meter-based ride hailing service, allowing users to order taxis through mobile apps or call centers for the first time in Yangon and Mandalay. With this tech-based taxi service, we no longer need to wait for taxis and negotiate fares. In addition to the local start-ups metered taxi service providers, international giants Uber and Grab are also introducing their services, which increases market competition. We believe that instead of using Uber and Grab, it is best to use home-grown taxi apps such as Oway, as it helps to support local business in Myanmar. And Oway Ride is providing the best services in town.
New technology is also digitizing the payment system in Myanmar. With electronic cash, payments can be transferred easily, without exchanging physical notes. Today, mobile money services such as True Money* allow users to purchase car tickets, pay electricity bills and top up phone balances electronically. Moreover, almost all banking services are easily accessible on mobiles at any time through mobile banking applications. Visa*, an international payment service provider, kicked off its financial services in the country, offering user-friendly e-payment services for users. The increased use of e-cash in the form of credit cards in Myanmar shows the country’s increased living standards.
Do you want to book a flight, hotel or get tickets to a concert? Today in Myanmar, booking or ordering something is easy, thanks to technology. People can now make reservations at restaurants or order food online with just a tap on their mobile devices. We can plan local or overseas trips using e-payment systems. This technology is even helping local start-ups to develop food delivery service via online booking. Now, food from our favorite restaurants can be delivered to our door by simply clicking the “order” button.
To avoid going to crowded malls, people can shop from the comfort of our own home by ordering online. Since online shopping has grown in Myanmar, businesses have started to distribute their products and services both offline and online. Today, people in Myanmar can make educated purchasing decisions by comparing products online before adding something to their cart. With live chats and active call center numbers offered on sites, shopping services are becoming more user-friendly in Myanmar. Today, online shopping is not limited only to fashion and trendy products. Users can shop for a variety of old and newly published books online. The We Distribution publishing house, founded by Myanmar entrepreneurs, is the first ever online sales platform for book lovers. Books ordered at We Distribution are carefully packaged and delivered in a matter of days.
People in Myanmar, especially millennials, are strengthening the economy through the use of technology. With advancing tech, the number of start-ups on digital platforms has greatly increased. Local entrepreneurs are solving problems through innovation on digital platforms. Their businesses focus on tackling the challenges that the community is facing by developing apps such as Kargo, an online truck-pooling service and GoP, an app for cheap package tours. The development of the digital sector and start-ups in Myanmar has been acknowledged worldwide. Star, an e-ticketing service for local buses, and tech and local innovation hub, Phandeeyar, provides seed funding and business advice to local start-ups and supports technological development in community. Digital square is quickly growing in Myanmar and the digital start-up community is also expanding every day.
Although not everyone with internet connectivity is experiencing all the tech-related benefits, it’s undeniable that technology is increasing development and raising living standards in Myanmar.
Htet Htet Win is a Senior PR & IMC Executive at Vero’s office in Yangon.