Myanmar out of the banking backwoods

Reading Time: 2 minutes

With the announcement that Visa credit cards would begin being accepted at nearly 90 ATMs across Myanmar on January 26, 2012, the former pariah nation made history by stepping out of the realm of financial obscurity and into the global network.

By Justin Calderon

Previously visitors to Myanmar would have to budget their entire trip ahead of time, making sure to bring perfectly crisp US dollars or face the apathetic stares of moneychangers who regularly deny bills with even the most inconspicuous smudge.

Now that private banks, namely Co-operative Bank and Kanbawza Bank, have begun operating in conjunction with Visa’s global security standards for electronic payment, however, access to the country will become dramatically easier – for a price.

Jon Handley, a long-term businessman based in Yangon, told Inside Investor that local ATMs are running up to snuff and are being used by visitors regularly without difficulty, contrary to stories of transaction errors, which Visa claims resulted from human error or insufficient funds.

Transaction fees from foreign cards will carry a hefty cost, aptly matching up with inflated prices seen in the country’s property and telecommunications sectors, mostly set on a inflated course from growing unmet demand. Visa cardholders can thus look forward to incurring a 10 per cent surcharge for every transaction.

Visa’s ATM network covers major cities, towns and tourist sites in Myanmar including Mandalay, Bago, and Taunggyi. In Yangon, Visa cards will be accepted at ATMs located at the Yangon International Airport, Bogyoke Market, Inle Lake Hotel, City Mart Marketplace, Junction Square, Trader’s Hotel and Park Royal Hotel.

Myanmar also offers 3G mobile and internet services, but getting a data plan requires that visitors sign up for the programme at designated centers and wait for approximately one week.

3G SIMs now go for about $220 to $230 in Myanmar, and there is no specific data plan yet per se. Instead, users register for a flat rate of 25 kyat a minute. Regular users of data services in Myanmar report that on average monthly bills come out to $40. For visitors who are not interested in using data, there are also SIM cards for simple calling plans, which cost an average of $20. Neither 3G SIMs or simple calling plans can make overseas calls.

These costs will lower, thankfully. Chief officials at the Myanmar Post and Telecommunications office have announced that by mid-January 2013, 3G SIM cards will be available for the reduced price of $174, yet costumers will still have to apply for internet plans as before.

The arrival of access to the international banking system and reduced prices for data services marks an important goal post for the country’s emergence and reform. Myanmar is scheduled to host two major international events in 2013: the World Economic Forum (WEF) on East Asia and the Southeast Asian Games.

It is critical, then, that Myanmar continues its integration into global networks to help facilitate travel and business. At the beginning of 2013, it looks like the there is a path out of the backwoods ahead.

Do you like this post?
  • Fascinated
  • Happy
  • Sad
  • Angry
  • Bored
  • Afraid

With the announcement that Visa credit cards would begin being accepted at nearly 90 ATMs across Myanmar on January 26, 2012, the former pariah nation made history by stepping out of the realm of financial obscurity and into the global network. By Justin Calderon Previously visitors to Myanmar would have to budget their entire trip ahead of time, making sure to bring perfectly crisp US dollars or face the apathetic stares of moneychangers who regularly deny bills with even the most inconspicuous smudge. Now that private banks, namely Co-operative Bank and Kanbawza Bank, have begun operating in conjunction with Visa's...

Reading Time: 2 minutes

With the announcement that Visa credit cards would begin being accepted at nearly 90 ATMs across Myanmar on January 26, 2012, the former pariah nation made history by stepping out of the realm of financial obscurity and into the global network.

By Justin Calderon

Previously visitors to Myanmar would have to budget their entire trip ahead of time, making sure to bring perfectly crisp US dollars or face the apathetic stares of moneychangers who regularly deny bills with even the most inconspicuous smudge.

Now that private banks, namely Co-operative Bank and Kanbawza Bank, have begun operating in conjunction with Visa’s global security standards for electronic payment, however, access to the country will become dramatically easier – for a price.

Jon Handley, a long-term businessman based in Yangon, told Inside Investor that local ATMs are running up to snuff and are being used by visitors regularly without difficulty, contrary to stories of transaction errors, which Visa claims resulted from human error or insufficient funds.

Transaction fees from foreign cards will carry a hefty cost, aptly matching up with inflated prices seen in the country’s property and telecommunications sectors, mostly set on a inflated course from growing unmet demand. Visa cardholders can thus look forward to incurring a 10 per cent surcharge for every transaction.

Visa’s ATM network covers major cities, towns and tourist sites in Myanmar including Mandalay, Bago, and Taunggyi. In Yangon, Visa cards will be accepted at ATMs located at the Yangon International Airport, Bogyoke Market, Inle Lake Hotel, City Mart Marketplace, Junction Square, Trader’s Hotel and Park Royal Hotel.

Myanmar also offers 3G mobile and internet services, but getting a data plan requires that visitors sign up for the programme at designated centers and wait for approximately one week.

3G SIMs now go for about $220 to $230 in Myanmar, and there is no specific data plan yet per se. Instead, users register for a flat rate of 25 kyat a minute. Regular users of data services in Myanmar report that on average monthly bills come out to $40. For visitors who are not interested in using data, there are also SIM cards for simple calling plans, which cost an average of $20. Neither 3G SIMs or simple calling plans can make overseas calls.

These costs will lower, thankfully. Chief officials at the Myanmar Post and Telecommunications office have announced that by mid-January 2013, 3G SIM cards will be available for the reduced price of $174, yet costumers will still have to apply for internet plans as before.

The arrival of access to the international banking system and reduced prices for data services marks an important goal post for the country’s emergence and reform. Myanmar is scheduled to host two major international events in 2013: the World Economic Forum (WEF) on East Asia and the Southeast Asian Games.

It is critical, then, that Myanmar continues its integration into global networks to help facilitate travel and business. At the beginning of 2013, it looks like the there is a path out of the backwoods ahead.

Do you like this post?
  • Fascinated
  • Happy
  • Sad
  • Angry
  • Bored
  • Afraid