Local payment services firm Red Dot has built up a network of more than 3000 retailers in Mandalay, Nay Pyi Taw and Yangon, chief marketing officer Andy Whelan said at a press conference yesterday.
Shop owners in every township of Myanmar’s three largest cities have set up Red Dot terminals – machines that act as payment gateways allowing customers to top up mobile phones without scratch cards.
Based in downtown Yangon, Red Dot offers technology and services that can streamline top-up sales and management for vendors, which is currently a clunky and involved process, according to Mr Whelan.
“You go into top-up stores and the retailer pulls out his box that’s got all his scratch cards in it; he searches through for the one that you’re requesting,” he said. “They’ve got to manage stock, make sure the expiry doesn’t run out, make sure none of the stock gets lost, and make sure [to have] all the different denominations when people come in.”
Red Dot’s system involves small terminals and “trading balances”. The year-old firm buys credit from Myanmar’s telcos – Ooredoo, Telenor, MecTel and MPT – the same as that which shop owners buy.
Through Red Dot, these retailers then have virtual balances of top-up, which deplete as customers walk in wanting credit. The terminals print receipts with instructions on how to top up, just like scratch cards – but without the silver band at the bottom.
Mr Whelan said the company has already built relationships with CB and AYA Banks in order to make the transfer payment process easier for retailers, and more relationships are forming.
The Red Dot system ensures top-up won’t expire in stores, get lost or damaged, or ever run out, according to the company.
“One of our problems is that the cards expire,” said Ma Tin Aye Yee, whose Bo Yar Nyunt Street shop sells top-up. “We don’t worry about the expiry of the card when using this machine.”
Red Dot will soon move into other payment services, namely bill pay. For now, it helps take Myanmar a step beyond scratch cards, already a relic in many telco markets.
“What we’re doing is not unique,” Mr Whelan said. “In other developed markets you can’t buy scratch cards anymore ... That’s where Myanmar will get as well.”
The company’s customer-care team works on the ground floor of its headquarters on Yaw Min Gyi Street. Signs on the door to their office encourage smiling and positivity – “Be an Optimus Prime, not a Negatron,” one reads. “What can I do to help get 6000 active trading merchants?” another asks.
The company targets enabling terminal top-ups at 20,000 outposts in Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw before 2015 ends – a massive scale-up in the months to come.