The Myanmar Times
Thursday, 31 July 2014
The Myanmar Times
The Myanmar Times

Visa moves too fast for Myanmar bank

Mr Peter Maher during a press release at the Sedona Hotel in Yangon to announce Visa’s partners in Myanmar on November 3, 2012.  (Thiri Lu/The Myanmar Times)Mr Peter Maher during a press release at the Sedona Hotel in Yangon to announce Visa’s partners in Myanmar on November 3, 2012.  (Thiri Lu/The Myanmar Times)

Visa cards are accepted at about 90 automatic teller machines operated by Co-operative Bank and Kanbawza Bank throughout the country, Visa Inc announced last week.

But while KBZ reports that operations with Visa are running smoothly, CB is waiting for Visa to repair technical problems that come amid a heavy volume of customer complaints.

From December 26, Visa cardholders could access cash in Yangon and at other major tourist destinations, covered by CB and KBZ banks’ combined Visa ATM network, Visa said.

For all Visa withdrawals in Myanmar, the transaction fee is set at K5000. A cardholder can withdraw up to K300,000 (US$350) per transaction, and cannot exceed K1 million (US $1166) per day.

By joining the Visa network, CB and KBZ have agreed to adopt Visa’s global security standards for electronic payment, Visa said.

Visa’s services in Myanmar have come earlier than it expected. Peter Maher, Visa’s group country manager for Southeast Asia and Australasia, had initially outlined plans for services in early 2013, telling The Wall Street Journal that there might be delays in readying banks for the technology necessary to process electronic payments.

“In all my meetings in Yangon, the lights were going on and off and the air-conditioning was going on and off,” Mr Maher told The Wall Street Journal on November 3. “This is Myanmar; everyone is doing things for the first time.”

CB has 45 ATMs that accept Visa nationwide, nearly 40 of which are in Yangon, said U Pe Myint, managing director of CB on December 27 during an interview with The Myanmar Times. Other ATMs that accept Visa are in Mandalay, Nay Pyi Taw, Bago and Taunggyi, he said.

He added that in Yangon, CB has three ATMs that accept Visa at Yangon International Airport; there are also CB ATMs that accept Visa at major retail outlets such as Junction Square, Junction Centre, Taw Win Centre, Yankin Centre and Bogyoke Market.

At hotels, CB has ATMs that accept Visa at Chatrium Hotel, Parami Hotel, Inle Hotel, and Governor’s Residence in Yangon. While CB has plans to install ATMs at Yangon’s Traders and Parkroyal hotels, “It is taking a long time because of IT problems,” U Pe Myint said.

U Pe Myint told The Myanmar Times CB has been slammed with customer complaints over faulty withdrawals, as “cardholders cannot get their money due to limitations on the machines”.

He explained that CB cannot tell the cardholder what their current balance is.

“On our side, we cannot see the [account holder’s] balance on the screen of the ATM,” U Pe Myint said.

“We’ve contacted Visa to make repairs. With MasterCard, we are 90 percent okay, but with Visa we are not,” U Pe Myint said.

“There have been a lot of complaints from the customers that they cannot withdraw money from the ATM.

“We’ve explained the consequences and we have a call centre for customers with questions.”

Meanwhile, KBZ’s general manager U Zaw Lin Htut told The Myanmar Times on the same day that they have not experienced any customer complaints or technical problems since they launched their ATMs that accept Visa on December 21.

KBZ has 37 ATMs that accept Visa nationwide, 26 of which are in Yangon, according to U Zaw Lin Htut.

Although KBZ is still waiting to install ATMs that accept Visa in Yangon International Airport and at hotels, they are currently available in Yangon at Junction Square, Taw Win Centre, City Mart supermarkets.

“We are waiting to install an ATM that accepts Visa at Yangon International Airport, but it could be as early as next week,” U Zaw Lin Htut said.

“We don’t have any [ATMs that accept Visa] at hotels right now because we need approval from the Ministry of Tourism first, but we will install them soon and we are currently in a dialogue,” he said.

Outside of Yangon, KBZ has ATMs that accept Visa in Mandalay and Taunggyi. The bank plans to install 50 to 60 more Visa-ready ATMs nation-wide, U Zaw Lin Htut said.

To manage cross border ATM processing, Visa has partnered with Planet Payment to connect CB and KBZ ATMs to VisaNet.

Philip Beck, chairman and chief executive officer of Planet Payment, told Thai newspaper The Nation that the company’s processing system enables payments to meet the needs of particular markets.

“Visa and Planet Payment share the vision that payments have the power to improve the way business is done and we are very excited to be working together to deliver innovative payment solutions to banks, merchants and consumers in developing economies around the world,” The Nation quoted him as saying on December 26.

Visa is the second such financial service to enter Myanmar, after MasterCard made the country’s first multinational card ATM transaction at CB bank’s headquarters at the corner of 23rd Street and Strand Road in Yangon on November 15.

Visa, the world’s largest payment network, signed its first licensing agreements in Myanmar with CB, KBZ and Myanmar Oriental banks at Sedona Hotel in Yangon on November 3.