The Myanmar Times
Thursday, 24 April 2014
The Myanmar Times
The Myanmar Times

More bank cards join payment union

Japan Credit Bureau officials address journalists at a ceremony to sign an agreement on the use of its payment system at the Myanmar Banks Association on November 23.  (Aye Thidar Kyaw / The Myanmar Times / December 3, 2012)Japan Credit Bureau officials address journalists at a ceremony to sign an agreement on the use of its payment system at the Myanmar Banks Association on November 23.  (Aye Thidar Kyaw / The Myanmar Times / December 3, 2012)

Holders of Japanese Credit Bureau and China Union Pay bank cards will be able to use them in Myanmar by early 2013 following the signing of agreements with the Myanmar Banks Association last week.

JCB completed its deal with the association on November 23, and CUP followed suit the next day; both agreements were made at the association’s head office in Yankin township in Yangon.

Holders of international bank cards with agreements with either CUP or JCB will be able to use them in the automatic teller machines of the 17 private banks that are members of the Myanmar Payment Union (MPU), a press release on Asia Green Development Bank’s (AGD) Facebook page said. Myanmar Payment Union secretary U Ye Min Oo is also a spokesperson for AGD.

Several bankers said that even though Myanmar has mostly relied on a cash economy since the 2003 banking crisis, the sector needs to reform and modernise in order to offer better service to foreigners who will visit for the Southeast Asian Games in December 2013 and the chairing of ASEAN in 2014.

“These cards will be able to be used at wide range of banks under the MPU,” said U Mya Than, vice chairman of the MPU’s management committee.

After the United States eased its financial sanctions on Myanmar, domestic banks are more easily able to form relationships with international banks, leaving them better able to provide services for foreign visitors, he said.

JCB is a major global payment brand and a leading credit card issuer in Japan, a company press release says. The company launched its card business in Japan before expanding worldwide in 1981. Its acceptance network includes more than 22 million merchants and more than one million cash advance locations in 190 countries and territories, the press release says.

It added that there is a growing demand for acceptance of payment cards from business visitors and tourists coming to Myanmar, and the bureau anticipates the increasing need for local credit cards to be issued to Myanmar residents due to rapid economic growth and rice in national income.

CUP is an association for China’s banking card industry and operates under the approval of the People’s Bank of China. It was launched in 2002, and cards under the union can be used in 104 countries, its website says.

U Ye Min Oo said both payment systems will be in use by February or March.

“We need to make users familiar with the system by the start of the SEA Games,” he said, adding that the union will charge a 2- or 3-percent fee for each transaction.

He said providing the services would benefit participating banks in a number of ways.

“The first advantage is that we can sell more of our services and products. The second is that it better promotes our country because when foreigners have come to Myanmar in the past they have had to bring lots of cash and exchange it at counters that do not operate 24 hours a day.

“But cards can be used any time they want,” he said.

JCB International’s senior vice president Yusuke Matsui said the bureau will cooperate with MPU to run special event in Myanmar over 2013 and 2014, and it plans to provide further services, such as issuing cards and credit cards to Myanmar citizens.

“We are trying to build up these services and discussing what we can do with MPU officials on what are the best solutions,” he said.