New reports suggest that giant Japanese electronics company Panasonic is planning to extend its smartphone business to Myanmar and Bangladesh. Htet Tayza explores what this means for the former nation’s fast-emerging mobile banking sector.
Core revenue driver
Panasonic is rapidly becoming a major player in the Asian smartphone market. Pankaj Rana, Panasonic India’s Business Head of Mobility recently said that India accounts for 80% of the firm’s smartphone business. Furthermore, Panasonic previously forecast that it would more than double its Indian mobile phone revenue from Rs 1,200 crore to Rs 2,500 crore during the current fiscal year.
Tapping new markets
Commenting recently, Rana said that now, India’s share of the firm’s smartphone business will drop to 60% as Panasonic seeks to capitalise on other expanding markets. He admitted that aside from the world’s second most populous nation, Africa and Saudi Arabia are also “big markets” for Panasonic’s smartphone trade. And now, the company plans to expand into South-East Asia too.
Speaking further, Rana was quoted by The Financial Express, an online finance industry portal, noting: “Panasonic had re-entered the consumer smartphone business some two-and-a-half years back. Since then, we have made steady progress and have seen tremendous growth… In the next 3-4 months, the company will launch its products in Bangladesh and Myanmar.”
New product launch
Talking about products, the company also recently launched a new product in India. This device, labelled the ELUGA Arc 2, retails at Rs 12,290 and possesses a 1.3 GHz quad-core processor. The handset also comes equipped with a 2,450 mAh battery, 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal memory (which can be extended to 128GB), as well as a 5MP front and 8MP rear camera.
The ELUGA Arc 2, which is 4G enabled, also features a dual SIM and is powered by the incredibly advanced Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) operating system. Commenting further on how Panasonic is constantly improving its smartphone technology, Rana went on to say:
“We are expanding our 4G Voice over LTE (VoLTE) portfolio and in the coming months, all our devices will support VoLTE.” With this feature, it will be even easier for Myanmar’s consumers to utilise voice carry out vital financial tasks more effectively. The company currently possesses 18 devices in its portfolio, three of which support 3G, while the remaining devices are equipped with 4G capabilities.
Advancing mobile banking
Increasingly, Myanmar’s population is recognising the value of smartphone technology. According to Telecom Asia, a regional industry portal, there are roughly 48m SIM cards registered in Myanmar, with 89% of the country’s population now owning one. This is allowing mobile banking to take root in Myanmar; a country where data suggests that only 5% of the population possesses a bank account.
Mobile banking, business magazine Crossroads Myanmar suggests, “provides users the option of bypassing the time-consuming, paper-based aspects of traditional banking,” while allowing banks to reduce administrative burdens. In a country where many citizens do not trust traditional banks, mobile-banking could serve as a valuable alternative, allowing Myanmar’s banking sector to expand rapidly as smartphone adoption rates keep rising.
But cash is still king in Myanmar, so more needs to be done to ensure that customers feel safe making the transition to mobile banking. In its recently-announced 12 point economic policy, the country’s government said that it will focus on enabling mobile banking, in order to facilitate financial sector expansion. By moving into Myanmar, Panasonic is giving the nation’s citizens the chance to access the first-rate smartphone technology needed to utilise mobile banking effectively.