The world’s most popular electronic payment cards - MasterCard and Visa - will be available in Myanmar this September if the Central Bank grants permission.
Cooperative Bank (CB Bank) Managing Director Pe Myint told Mizzima that his Myanmar-based bank will forge ahead in an attempt to issue both MasterCard and Visa credit cards before the year is out.
Currently, domestic banks cannot issue the cards, however CB Bank is confident it will become the first. The move would promote an improvement in credit card services, which are largely unavailable to foreigners and locals alike at this point.
“I think we can be the first to issue these cards. We want to use these in Myanmar after getting approval from Central Bank,” said Pe Myint. "The cash limit and credit limit will first have to be set by regulations issued by the Myanmar Central Bank."
Foreign Visa and MasterCard users could theoretically have used their cards in Myanmar since April 2013, however services are currently unreliable and most people still rely on cash for all purchases.
Myanmar Fishery Federation Vice-Chairman Hnin Oo said, “It will be convenient and safe for the card holders as they don’t need to carry much money when they travel. But the bank services for these cards should be error free. Prevention of bank fraud and forgery is very important.”
Myanmar lags behind neighbour Thailand in its credit card services. Sources say that Visa bank cards from Thai providers can be attained by simply depositing 500 Baht (US$16) into a local account. There is no maximum cash limit for deposit but the debit limit of the cards is set by the issuing bank. Myanmar's limits will be set by the Central Bank for the foreseeable future.
The cards being offered by CB Bank are intended to ease the frustration of travel and business transactions for foreigners coming to the country. Following the World Economic Forum, many noted that the personal financial system was very unaccommodating to foreigners, who have to transport large sums of clean, new money into the country before facing a stringent exchange process.
Card holders will be able to use the preliminary ATM infrastructure in the Myanmar, as well as foreign countries.