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IPA and ThitsaWorks Partner to Study the Impact of Interoperability in Myanmar's Microfinance Sector

Updated: Jun 15, 2023

Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), a research and policy organization, and ThitsaWorks, a Myanmar fintech, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to collaborate on the research project titled "The Impact of Interoperability in Microfinance," with a focus on the performance and impact of real-time interoperable payment system on the country’s microfinance institutions (MFIs) and their customers.





Implementation of a participant-governed, shared, and open platform that empowers Myanmar’s MFIs to connect to mobile wallets and banks timely and cost-effectively with an ultimate goal to involve low-income residents of the country in the digital economy by offering MFIs and their clients accessible digital payment solutions is underway. A total of 33 major players in the industry have thus far confirmed a commitment to take part in the scheme. In the long run, an interoperable payment platform stands to benefit over 5 million microfinance clients in Myanmar.


IPA and ThitsaWorks will jointly undertake research activities to evaluate the efficiency and impact of interoperable payments over a set time period. A public report will be made available by IPA using data acquired from demand and supply-side stakeholders. The lessons learned will help global stakeholders in their journey to launch an interoperable payment system in the microfinance finance sector of their own countries.


Mr. Nyi Nyein Aye, CEO of ThitsaWorks stated, "In developing countries, microfinance sector digitization has become a mandatory requirement for its sustainability. The introduction of an interoperable payment system in Myanmar’s microfinance brings great potential for the adoption of digital finance in the country. We are honored to partner with IPA to develop a Monitoring & Evaluation framework as we believe this is the essential part of the development of a credible solution.”


Ms. Afke Jager, Country Director of IPA Myanmar commented, "The IPA team is excited to work closely with ThitsaWorks under IPA’s interoperable payment systems research program as we share the common mission towards improving the lives of people living in poverty through financial inclusion. We believe this partnership will bring out the qualitative and quantitative insights of the performance and impact of the solution developed to enable interoperable and real-time payment system in Myanmar."


Digitalization for sustainability


It is estimated that 70% of the adult population of Myanmar is unbanked, and microfinance institutions are essential to bringing financial services to low-income customers. More than 180 MFIs provide financial services to around 5 million people across the country, and yet a sizable population is still excluded. The lending process has always been cumbersome for borrowers, and the global pandemic and extraordinary shift in the political landscape have now made it more painful to access credit.


Digital financial service providers in Myanmar’s financial market operate independently from each other. This lack of interoperability results in siloed financial networks. Integrating microfinance operations with digital payment systems takes a series of negotiations, agreements, technical integration, and settlement procedures – one at a time. Thus, the whole process is complicated, and incurs excessive expenditures.


An interoperable real-time payment switch is under implementation to serve as a single point of integration for microfinance institutions in Myanmar. It aims to increase the efficiency and digitization of microfinance transactions. This switch, which is the first of its kind in the country, uses Mojaloop open-source technology and was developed through the Myanmar Microfinance Digitalization Initiative by ThitsaWorks, INFITX, and United Nations Capital Development Fund.


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About IPA:


Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) is a research and policy organization that discovers and promotes effective solutions to global poverty problems. IPA designs, rigorously evaluates, and refines these solutions and their applications together with researchers and local decision-makers, ensuring that evidence is used to improve opportunities for the world’s poor. Since its founding in 2002, IPA has worked with over 600 leading academics to conduct over 830 evaluations in 52 countries.


To learn more about IPA, please visit: https://www.poverty-action.org/


About ThitsaWorks:


ThitsaWorks is a FinTech that provides digital payment and data analytics solutions for financial institutions to transact, collect, manage, and analyze data needed to run effective operations and manage risks. ThitsaWorks’s data-driven solutions help financial institutions grow and make better credit decisions and improve financial inclusion by providing users with access to financial literacy, financial information, and appropriate financial products. ThitsaWorks’ solutions include core banking software, a microfinance data-sharing platform, a digital financial literacy platform, and an interoperable payment switch platform.


To learn more about ThitsaWorks, please visit:https://www.thitsaworks.com/

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