The Globe as you know it is changing.
Coming June 2019

  • More thought-provoking stories that inspire
  • Independent, free and member-supported
  • Vote for, pitch and commission stories
  • Member engagement with our journalists

To understand more about why you are so important to our member-supported initiative, we encourage you to read the following from our managing editor ~ Read more

The Globe as you know it is changing.

Since 2007, Southeast Asia Globe has been a space for some of the region’s best writers and photographers to take our readers behind the headlines into the stories that shape people’s lives. Every month, you could expect to pick up our latest print edition and find high-quality journalism, analysis and artwork waiting on every page. And since 2007, we’ve fought to uphold our promise of quality and independence to you, our readers.

But, like we said, the world is changing. Print publications just aren’t reaching the audiences they need to fulfil their promise of informing, educating and entertaining the public. Advertisers continue to invest in digital platforms while printing costs creep ever higher. Print may not be dead, but it’s fighting for its life. And we’re tired of waiting by a sickbed for its condition to improve. We want to be present at the birth of something new.

That’s why Southeast Asia Globe is relaunching as a member-driven platform featuring daily long-form features combining world-class journalism with enthralling art design and data-centered tech. Through our core pillars – Power, Money, Life and Earth – we are focusing in on the central issues that our readers have always engaged with most, with the same in-depth coverage of politics, business, social affairs and the environment that you’ve come to expect since 2007.

But leaving print behind us doesn’t just save our backs from lugging stacks of magazines across Southeast Asia. It opens up a global readership who don’t just want to read the news, but have a say in the stories that we tell and the way that we tell them. We’re not asking you to take out another magazine subscription – our stories are open to all. What we’re offering our members is a space where they can pitch and vote on the stories that they think deserve to be told. We want to inspire an engaged and active community of members who vote for, comment on and contribute to the stories that matter most to them. We want to work with our members to curate the way they engage with the news – not just as readers, but as an active extension of our editorial team.

That’s how we’re changing to bring you great stories. Here’s how we’re not.

We’re independent. Always have been, always will be. We’re not owned by any corporation or aligned with any state. We choose the stories that we tell, and the way that we tell them.

We’re creative. We’re not interested in churning out breaking news stories on the hour, every hour. We believe that the best stories are the ones that come alive on the page, digging deeper into the issues that shape Southeast Asia – and bringing you along for the ride. From our dedicated designers to our new software development team, our commitment is to constantly challenge ourselves to find new ways of reaching out to our readers.

We’re open. Challenging governments, NGOs and businesses to be transparent with the public means nothing if we keep our own readers in the dark. That’s why we will be completely open about why we tell the stories that we tell – and how we pay for them. Work with us to build something that endures where many media fail, and decide with us exactly where that money is going.

Above all, we’re optimistic. And yeah, we know what you’re thinking. Faced with impending climate collapse, the rise of right-wing authoritarian governments across the world, widening wealth and income inequality and deepening divisions rooted in race or gender or creed, it’s hard not to open the papers and feel the weight of the world pressing down. But we wouldn’t be doing this if we didn’t believe that when people work together, they can make their little corner of the world a more just, open and equal place.

And that’s why we can’t do this without you. We believe that across the globe is a community of people who care deeply about social justice, environmental action and press freedom – and who will join in to help make those ideals a reality. We’re not just holding our hand out – we need your voice to play a vital role in building Southeast Asia Globe into a leading space for progressive causes in the region. Tell us what stories the mainstream media is missing. Share with us the causes that matter most to you, and how we can champion those causes not just across Southeast Asia, but the world.

Our vision is clear. By 2025, we want to be recognised for building a great space for outstanding journalists from across the region to explore new ways of telling Southeast Asia’s most vital stories. Let’s bring together a community of engaged and loyal members who want to help reshape the media rather than just read it. And we want to reach a point where our readers, not advertisers, are the ones working to support our shared vision of an inclusive media.

We can’t do this without you. Let’s get together and build something that we all believe in.

If you’re interested in joining us, sign up to our newsletter, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter. And watch this space.

Why Wave Money is banking on Myanmar moving on from cash

By: Euan Black - Posted on: September 27, 2017 | Business

In a country where people pay for apartments with bags full to the brim with bills, Wave Money CEO Brad Jones explains how he hopes to wean people off cash payments

Wave Money CEO Brad Jones

What is Wave Money?

We are a traditional mobile money business similar to other models around the world such as Easypaisa in Pakistan or Wing in Cambodia. We allow money transfers either over the counter from agent-to-agent or through mobiles.

How do you make money? 

We charge a transaction fee on every transaction and then we pay part of that out to the agent. We look to make money off the back of that. These businesses are very much scale businesses – they’re like Visa and MasterCard. When those corporations started out, the volume obviously took time to build. But once you’ve actually built the volume, they can be very profitable businesses because the marginal cost of providing a transaction is actually quite low.

How do you hope to compete with traditional remittance services and newcomers entering the market?

In Myanmar, it’s a little bit different to other markets in which I’ve worked because a lot of the money is transferred through banks here. It’s not people with bank accounts, it’s unbanked people going into bank branches and using the bank branch to transfer money. Firstly, I don’t think that’s an effective use of a bank’s infrastructure. I think the banks will actually use that real estate to sell mortgages and credit cards and all that sort of stuff. So, I think we’re well placed to work with banks who are wanting to move those customers into a channel that’s actually more convenient for the customers.

In terms of competition from other mobile operators coming in, I welcome it because I think what we see here is that cash is the competitor at the moment. There’s so much cash that is transferred around Myanmar – [it’s common to see] big sacks filled with money being moved around. We’re all going after the digitization of that cash. And for a period of time, I don’t see it as a market share battle, I see it more as the industry educating consumers as to why digital cash is better than physical cash.

Previously, fintech players seemed to be intent on disrupting the financial sector. Now, they seem much more likely to want to work with banks. How would you like to work with banks in the future?

Firstly, we want to work with anyone. One of the things I’d like to do is provide our customers with the ability to access their funds from a bank account. So, for example, we have a feature now – because we’re connected to Yoma bank and we have a relationship with them – which allows customers to move money from their Yoma bank account into their Wave account very easily. It’s a bit like moving money into a PayPal account from a debit card. So, I’d love to be able to do that with many banks and have customers basically link their source of funds to their Wave account.

What are some of the main challenges that Wave faces operating in Myanmar?

The biggest challenge for anyone in this business is the distribution network. Myanmar is such a big country. We’re now in about 70% of townships around the country – to get around and actually see where our outlets are, it’s a lot of travel. We are in some extremely remote places. We’re in Kachin state, we’re in Chin state, we’re in Rakhine State. Anyone can go and roll this out in Yangon and Mandalay, that’s easy. But pushing this out where the people really need the service – that’s not so easy. And even areas like Chin, we’re finding it very tough because of the terrain.

Secondly, trust is a big issue – predominantly because the Myanmar consumers have had such a bad experience with the banking system over the last 60 or 70 years. There’s been three demonetisations, the last monetisation was only in the 1980s. The last banking failure was in 2003. So, the average Myanmar person has vivid memories of losing their money. The trust level in the banking system is quite low, though we certainly don’t market ourselves as a bank – and legally, we’re not allowed to.

Moving away from Wave for a minute, what is your assessment of the startup ecosystem in Myanmar?

It’s a really interesting space here in Myanmar at the moment. An organisation called Phandeeyar was formed here a couple years ago. The founder, David Madden, did a fantastic job creating a narrative around the digital leapfrog that was happening in Myanmar, and provided hundreds of young Myanmar people with training on how to become an entrepreneur. That led to the establishment of an accelerator programme and the Founder Institute programme, which Wave has been a big part of.

There’s certainly lots of innovation and passion, but access to finance is a major challenge – the banking system does not allow for unsecured credit, so if you want to borrow money, you need to have collateral to base that on, so I think that makes it very hard for entrepreneurs who need funding.

What does the future hold for Wave?

I think this market here could support 30,000 or 40,000 agents for an average player relatively comfortably. We’re sitting at 8,500 so we’ve got a lot of growth to do. I think there’s going to be a lot more growth in the digital side. This will I think be a little different to say the way Wing operates in Cambodia, which is very much over-the-counter transfers. I think you’ll see a lot more on the app because of the digital penetration and the data usage in the country. The average Telenor data usage is about 3.5GB a month, which is higher than Thailand and Malaysia. So, this is leading us to think a lot more digitally than perhaps has been done in other mobile money implementations around the world.

A version of this article was published in the September edition of Southeast Asia Globe magazine. For full access, subscribe here