08/11/2012, 00.00
MYANMAR

Currency revolution: by 2013, credit cards active in Myanmar

By the end of the month debit cards and electronic payment services will be launched. Currently five of the seven banks licensed to operate. Green light for foreign currency accounts and foreign money transactions. Justification required for amounts greater than 10 thousand dollars.

Yangon (AsiaNews / Agencies) - A revolution is underway in the Burmese banking sector: by the beginning of the South East Asian Games in 2013, for the first time in the country's history credit cards will be introduced. Meanwhile, since August, citizens can avail of debit cards and electronic payment service through banks, called Giro Billing Payment System (Gbps). This is confirmed by U Pe Myint, manager of the Cooperative Bank, that "we have already taken many steps to reach the goal of a fully functioning banking system."

Currently five of the seven major banks in Myanmar, who are now licensed to provide foreign currency accounts, will introduce the s Gbpsystem, which facilitates the payment of bills such as telephone or electricity. Added to this, the introduction of so-called debit cards - the deadline is the end of the month - considered the first major step towards the introduction of real credit cards.

The first step, experts say, is to open foreign currency accounts. Then, mergers with other banks to facilitate the remittance of money from Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, where the majority of Burmese migrants live. Before it was only possible to send money to Burma, now locals can also send money abroad, for an amount less than 10 thousand dollars. Larger sums will require a justification, from the Department of the Central Bank of Burma, which will oversee foreign credit transfers. And there are others who are preparing for these changes, such as the Asia Green Development Bank, by studying the possibilities of just to cover all operations to facilitate customers and reduced the number of cards.

Speaking to The Irrawaddy Oo Thein Myint clarifies that the Gbps system will be useful for customers who "can not pay via telephone or electronically" and all they have to do is open an account at the bank, which will provide them a username and password. For every transaction there is a fee of 500 kyat. "At the moment the Central Bank does not allow the use of credit cards - the manager concludes - but I hope that the service will soon be active."

The path of modernization continues in the former Burma, first initiated by President Thein Sein (with the cooperation of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi) who established the nation in the world, at least in an economic and commercial sense. In recent weeks the World Bank and International Monetary Fund have opened offices in the country. The government's reforms have led to the partial lifting of the West's sanctions, a decision which has led many international companies to focus on Myanmar, which many see as the next - in the near future - "Asian tiger"

 

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