The smell of burning plastic will now enrich the heady cocktail of scents in Yangon’s streets. As of January 31, customers can pay for goods and services at selected outlets using their Visa card.
Visa, which describes itself as the world’s biggest payment network, will offer the service in cooperation with Myanmar Oriental Bank. The credit card company said this would “bring new opportunities for local merchants and banks to participate in the global electronic payments system, and marks the first time international cardholders can make a payment directly to a local merchant with their Visa card”.
Visa signed its first licensing agreements in Myanmar with Kanbawza Bank, Cooperative Bank and Myanmar Oriental Bank on November 3.
Mr Somboon Krobteeranon, Visa country manager for Myanmar and Thailand, said this development was an important step in helping Myanmar develop its electronic payments infrastructure. Mr Somboom, who promised that card transactions would be secure, told The Myanmar Times he looked forward to participation by the other local partner banks at an early date.
Card users would be charged a small transaction fee, he confirmed. “The amount will be very small because we just charge for the transaction. I would say the charge will be less than a dollar,” he said.
Restaurants in Yangon are likely to be early users of the service, said Mr Somboom, with Green Elephant in Kamaryut township in the lead.
“Myanmar Restaurant Association’s vice-chairman told me more than 200 restaurants are ready to participate. We believe hotels, antique shops and gems and jewellery stores could also use Visa,” said Mr Somboon.
Visa can also be used at 108 ATMs throughout the country.
Daw Kyi Kyi Than, managing director of the MOB Bank, said the launch was a significant landmark in the development of financial services in Myanmar. “As Myanmar opens its borders once again, we are proud to be the first Visa POS acquiring bank in the country,” she said, adding that the bank was ready to install more ATMs. “We have five ATMs, four in Yangon and one in Mandalay. But we will install 18 ATMs before the end of March, especially in Yangon, Mandalay, Nay Pyi Taw and Bagan,” she told The Myanmar Times.
“Starting tomorrow, we aim to extend the Visa service to about 50 shops in two weeks,” she said.
The owner of Green Elephant Restaurant, Ms Cherie Aung-Khin, said: “We’ve been operating our restaurant business for more than a decade. Increasingly, we are welcoming international visitors and to be able to accept Visa card payments means we can now offer the highest level of payment convenience and service to customers.”