Monday, September 17, 2012

First debit cards in limited use in Burma now

Monday, 17 September 2012 14:48 Mizzima News

Burma launched its first domestic debit cards this week, allowing some Burmese to access their bank accounts and pay for shopping, dining and travel for the first time at some locations.

A Burmese bank staff member demonstrates the use of a new domestic debit card at a cash machine during a launch ceremony in Rangoon on Friday, September 14, 2012. Burma introduced debit cards for the first time, allowing people to pay for everything from meals to flights without cash in the former military-ruled country. ATMs are still not a common sight in Burma and are limited to a few locations. Photo: AFP

Use of the new debit cards will be restricted at first to 14 locations in Yangon, including shopping malls, airline offices, computer shops, one hotel and two restaurants.

Withdrawals from ATM machines will be limited to 1 million kyat ($1,152) per day, the central bank said, state-run media reported.

Previously, the central bank announced the formation of the Myanmar Payment Union (MPU), in cooperation with 17 banks, which will allow customers to take out cash from any ATM machine nationwide and make payments in a small number of shops, restaurants and offices. ATM machines are still limited in Burma, and do not offer acess to international credit cards.

ATM cards were launched this year, but holders were only able to use the machines of their own bank.

Plans are in place to offer credit cards in coming months after MasterCard Inc. reached an agreement with Co-Operative Bank Limited, which has 24 ATMs, to issue the country's first branded cards.

Foreign banks are still not allowed to offer banking services in Burma, but a growing number have opened representative offices.

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