Cash in Context: Uncovering Financial Services in Myanmar

February 24, 2014

Myanmar is currently undergoing a period of historically unprecedented reform. After years of military rule, a new government has ushered in political, social, and economic changes that have begun to lay a foundation for greater countrywide prosperity in the coming years.

Key to the government’s reform is the role of economic development. Laws and policies aimed at strengthening the country’s economy and financial sector have increased investors’ confidence and led to high levels of FDI flowing into the country.

Unlocking the economic growth potential for Myanmar requires understanding their financial services market, and the use of financial services in different population segments. Building from academic research and a series of 72 informational and field interviews, the report provides insight into Myanmar’s unique relationship to financial services. Six key findings include:

  1. Distrust in the banking system and lack of formal financial services development has driven a heavy reliance on cash
  2. The informal economic plays a significant role in financial services provision
  3. People predominantly save by investing in tangible goods
  4. Formal borrowing is risky, time intensive, and complex
  5. Religion significantly impacts the attitude towards financial services
  6. Trust plays a key role in increasing adoption of financial services and supporting the formal sector


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