Monday, October 22, 2012

Burma officially approves use of int'l credit cards

Monday, 22 October 2012 14:09 Mizzima News

Burma has approved the introduction of foreign credit cards, but officials did not say when the use of the cards would likely begin.

An ATM at a Kanbawzah Bank branch at Junction Square Centre in Kamayut Township. International credit cards have been officially approved by the authorities, but the date when service will begin has not been announced. Photo: Bo Bo / Mizzima

Until now, visitors to Burma have been required to do their transactions in cash.

The finance ministry reportedly gave its official approval for Visa, MasterCard, China UnionPay and Japan Credit Bureau to enter the country and do business, according to a story in the state-run New Light of Myanmar.

Washington has eased financial restrictions on Burma after reforms including the release of some political prisoners and the election of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to parliament.

Mizzima recently reported that Visa had started training Burmese local bank employers to use electronic payment systems to help modernize the economy, but it said the full introduction of ATM machines that can use international credit cards may occur for six months.

Visa has begun training workshops aimed at upgrading facilities over the next few months.

The United States, the EU and other countries have lifted or eased sanctions against Burma after the new government took over last year and moved to implement political and economic reforms and release political prisoners.

Burmese consumers are now able to use a Myanmar Payment Union (MPU) debit card to withdraw money at ATM machines of participating banks and to buy goods at some stores.

Several banks are using the local debit cards on a trial-run basis, but the cards have not been widely available to consumers.

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