After the coup in Myanmar on 1 February, I have gained a profound appreciation for the development of Fintech in my country and the Certified Expert in Digital Finance (CEDF) course. The course is delivered fully online by Frankfurt School and I joined it from April to November 2020. Let me begin with how I came across the course.
I was fortunate to be referred to the announcement of an online learning scholarship programme by a colleague and was offered the full-fee scholarship supported by German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ) to pursue CEDF. Embarking on such a course as my first fully online learning experience, in the middle of a pandemic could not make more sense, since Covid-19 has catalysed the digitalisation of education and business.
The CEDF course contents are quite informative, packed with various real-world case examples and further readings that are made easy enough to follow and would spark interest for a beginner with no prior knowledge in the field. Likewise, the FSDF e-Campus team is highly supportive with quick replies to any queries we have and facilitated information sessions for assignments and a final exam. It was the group work that truly provided engaging experiences and inspiration through case studies and examples. This work enables participants to apply the concepts to their own situations. For each group assignment, the lecturer provided clear instructions and guidance which greatly helped us organise the structure and smoothly execute the assignment. Group assignments are designed not only to assess students’ cooperation in a team capacity but to encourage students to explore self-learning and self-discovery, which are integral to the course contents and the real-world workplace.
Since the start of democratisation in Myanmar in 2011, the biggest turning point in the last decade has seemed to be the liberalisation of the telecom sector that granted operating licenses to multinational telecom operators in 2014. Since then, mobile and internet connectivity has dramatically digitalised financial services, further fueled by a series of reforms by the Central Bank and with the advent of 4G internet in 2016. The competition among telecom providers has made access to mobile internet far easier, radically changing people’s lives, and exposing them to financial inclusion and literacy, and bringing them from cash to digital finance.
People have increasingly made use of mobile wallets to pay taxes, bills, online shopping expenses and airtime top-ups, and to receive government benefits like pension payments at the nearest agent banking outlet in their quotidian lives. Taxi drivers search for passengers via mobile apps and receive fares via e-wallet. Those individuals who seek employment opportunities elsewhere can instantly remit money to their families in the rural areas via agent banking.
All this synchronised democratisation of financial services has not only strengthened the individual and institutional capacities but has incorporated access to digital financial services (DFS) as a basic citizen or human right. That is perhaps why the coup-makers quickly prioritised whitelisting DFS-related websites and mobile banking apps to promote cashless payments as they could not deal with the demand surge of cash and cash payment after blocking mobile internet access for more than a month. That was when I realised the powerful role and the inclusive potentials of fintech developments in the democratisation process and appreciated that I had already chosen to study digital finance.
Last, let me recommend CEDF to all aspiring banking & finance professionals, business graduates, and students alike who are looking for high-quality flexible learning either to simply enrich oneself with practical knowledge about digital finance or to apply the knowledge as part of continuous professional development.