Thursday, June 28, 2012

Burma’s banking landscape changing fast

Thursday, 28 June 2012 14:47 Mizzima News

The total number of foreign bank offices in Burma now stands at 20, following the country’s rapid move to integrate with the international community. Krungthai Bank of Thailand is the most recent bank to make the move, and Siam Commercial Bank is planning to open a local office, say reports.

The Irrawaddy Bank on Bayintnaung Road in Rangoon. Photo: Mizzima

In the past six months, rapid changes have reshaped the banking and financial landscape as the government rushes to establish a functioning financial system that can offer investors the type of transactions that are routine in other nations.

Foreign banks with offices in Burma now include Singapore, Bangladesh, China, France, Japan, Malaysia, Netherlands, Thailand, Cambodia, Brunei, Vietnam, South Korea, the United States and the United Kingdom, said an article by Xinhua news agency on Thursday.

As part of its financial restructuring, the Central Bank of Myanmar has opened links with banks in the United States and European Union countries.

Japan, with six banks, represents the largest number, and Japan will also resume direct flights to Rangoon by All Nippon Airways in September.  Japan recently announced plans to build a mega-shopping center in Rangoon by Lawson Inc. of Japan.

The World Bank will also open an office as it re-engages with the country. The Asian Development Bank is now in preliminary talks with the government to re-engage in Burma and to offer development loans and other economy-building projects in the future.

In moves to upgrade the financial transaction system within the country, the Central Bank of Myanmar has granted 11 Burmese private banks the right to trade in three foreign hard currencies – the U.S. dollar, Euro and Singapore dollar since last year. The banks are Kanbawza Bank, Cooperative Bank, Myanmar Industrial Development Bank, Myawaddy Bank, Inwa Bank, Myanmar Oriental Bank, Asian Green Development Bank, Ayeyawaddy Bank, Myanmar Pioneer Bank, United Amara Bank and Tun Foundation Bank.

Many banks have now set up exchange counters at banks, airports, hotels, shopping centers and major tourists destinations.

More automatic teller machines can now be found in Rangoon and other locations.

Four banks, including Cooperatives Bank, Kanbawza Bank, Asia Green Development Bank and Ayeyawaddy Bank, began offering remittance services to Burmese migrant workers working in Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia in February.

Burma now has 19 private banks and three state-owned banks.

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