Myan­mar joins global pay­ment net­work

The Myanmar Times - - Business - HTIN LYNN AUNG htin­lyn­naung@mm­ STEVE GIL­MORE s.gil­more@mm­

AN­OTHER step in the ef­fort to bet­ter con­nect Myan­mar to the global fi­nan­cial sys­tem has been taken, with AYA Bank be­com­ing the first lender to of­fer bank cards with a stamp from global pay­ment net­work provider JCB.

The bank is is­su­ing debit and credit cards with a joint stamp from Japan’s JCB and Myan­mar Pay­ment Union (MPU), mean­ing it can be used in Myan­mar and across a JCB net­work span­ning some 31 mil­lion mer­chants in 190 coun­tries and ter­ri­to­ries.

“It’s a move that will con­nect Myan­mar’s card sys­tem with [those in] other coun­tries,” said U Zaw Lin Htut, CEO of MPU, at a sign­ing cer­e­mony be­tween AYA Bank, MPU and JCB yes­ter­day.

U Zaw Zaw, founder and chair of AYA Bank, noted that an ear­lier lack of in­fras­truc­ture and re­sources had held Myan­mar’s bank­ing sys­tem back from be­ing able to join world­wide pay­ment net­works like JCB’s.

CB Bank also has an agree­ment with JCB In­ter­na­tional, which opened a Yan­gon branch in July, to is­sue MPUJCB stamped cards, but it has yet to start is­su­ing them. JCB In­ter­na­tional is in dis­cus­sions with sev­eral other Myan­mar banks to is­sue JCB cards, said Ayako Tanaka, from the com­pany’s cor­po­rate plan­ning depart­ment.

The Ja­panese firm signed a mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing with MPU for joint branded cards back in Jan­uary 2015. At that point JCB was fo­cused on MPU mem­ber banks is­su­ing JCB stamped debit cards, which the Ja­panese firm ex­pected to ap­pear that same year. Lo­cal IT is­sues in pre­par­ing for JCB cards in Myan­mar pushed the time­line back, ac­cord­ing to Ms Tanaka. But in the mean­time credit cards reap­peared in Myan­mar, mean­ing that banks can now of­fer credit and debit cards with a JCB stamp.

True credit cards dis­ap­peared in the wake of the 2003 bank­ing cri­sis, and un­til this year any credit cards pro­vided by Myan­mar banks re­quired ei­ther funds in an ac­count or pre-pay­ment.

The re­turn of credit cards to Myan­mar has also co­in­cided with the spread of in­ter­na­tional cards. CB Bank launched an in­ter­na­tional credit card in June branded with the MPU and UnionPay In­ter­na­tional (UPI) stamps, al­low­ing it be to used abroad wher­ever UnionPay is ac­cepted.

AYA Bank’s jointly branded MPUJCB card, mean­while, is one of three AYA Bank cards that can be used over­seas, ac­cord­ing to the lender’s man­ag­ing di­rec­tor U Phyo Aung.

That bank also started of­fer­ing MPU-UPI cards in July, and has ar­ranged for cus­tomers to use both JCB and UPI-stamped cards if they wish, U Soe Lin, as­sis­tant man­ag­ing di­rec­tor at AYA Bank, told The Myan­mar Times.

JCB-brand cards can be used in the US at ATMs with a Cir­rus logo. JCB In­ter­na­tional has an agree­ment with Myan­mar is­suers not to pro­vide JCB stamped cards to any­one on the Spe­cially Des­ig­nated Na­tion­als black­list, but or­di­nary card holders should be able to use their cards in the US with­out is­sues, Ms Tanaka said.

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