China UnionPay card holders can withdraw cash from Co-operative Bank ATMs in Myanmar following the launch of the new service on January 1.
UnionPay card holders are able to access their accounts on 50 ATMs in eight major cities throughout the country, including Yangon, Mandalay, Nay Pyi Taw, Mawlamyine, Bago, Taungoo, Pyinmana and Pyin Oo Lwin, U Pe Myint, managing director of CB, told The Myanmar Times on January 10.
“About 10,000 transactions have been made so far,” U Pe Myint said. Customers can withdraw a maximum of K300,000 a transaction; the transaction fee is K5000. The daily withdraw limit is K1 million, about US$1200, he added.
U Pe Myint said the increasing number of Chinese tourists and the strong presence of Chinese businesses in Myanmar encouraged the bank to work closely with China UnionPay. “Everybody from China carries UnionPay cards with them,” he said.
More than 62,000 Chinese nationals visited Myanmar in 2011, comprising a 15.85 per cent total of the year’s tourists – making China top the list of international visitors, shows Myanmar Tourism Statistics 2011 released by the Ministry of Hotels and Tourisms.
From 2011-2012, China was Myanmar’s biggest trade partner, with bilateral trade volume exceeding US$5 billion, according to Myanmar’s Central Statistical Organisation.
CB’s cooperation with China UnionPay comes after the bank’s recent deals with other major international payment card issuers: MasterCard, Visa and Japan Credit Bureau.
These international cooperations are a substantial move away from Myanmar’s long-standing restrictions over private domestic banks, U Pe Myint said.
“The military government’s control of the banks was very restricted, which is why we couldn’t do anything at that time,” U Pe Myint said. “But at present there’s no military government. The new government is advancing and they’ve amended many old laws.”
U Pe Myint said CB is gearing up for an influx of tourists and a rapidly growing economy with the bank’s new services: “We will host the Southeast Asian Games in 2013 and we are the chairman of the ASEAN community in 2014.
“In 2015 there will be a stock market in Myanmar and the trade is also growing. That’s why we have a lot of work to do now. Myanmar people in all sectors have to work hard or we will lag behind.”
CB Bank plans to launch mobile and internet banking service starting from June and will open up to 300 branches in 300 townships throughout the country within the next three or four years, each equipped with a cash withdrawal machine, a cash deposit machine and a passport update machine, U Pe Myint said.
UnionPay cards are accepted in 135 countries and regions outside China, according to a statement on its website. However, the website has not yet been updated to include Myanmar.
UnionPay cards issued by banks rose 22pc in 2011 from a year earlier to 2.9 billion while Visa, which has the world’s largest payment network, rose 4pc to 2.3 billion, shows figures compiled by Bloomberg.