Visa Entering Cash-Dominated Burma Market: Report

Posted August 17th, 2012 at 4:10 am (UTC-5)
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It may soon be easier to make credit and debit card transactions in Burma, after financial services company Visa announced it is preparing to enter the Southeast Asian nation's cash-dominated market.

The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that Visa is training local bank workers to use electronic payment systems to help modernize Burma's economy, which is emerging from decades of international sanctions.

Although making electronic transactions has become routine elsewhere in the world, it is next to impossible in Burma. The impoverished country has very few ATMs and businesses have long been barred from accepting internationally recognized credit cards.

But Visa says a large influx of international visitors set to come to the country following an easing of sanctions will make it necessary for Burma to provide basic electronic payment services for those reluctant to carry cash.

The Wall Street Journal says Visa remains months away from establishing ATM machines or full-fledged electronic payments because of insufficient infrastructure in the impoverished country.

But the company says it is partnering with a group of banks to establish training workshops aimed at upgrading facilities over the next few months. It does not yet have plans to set up an office in the country.

The United States and several other countries have begun lifting sanctions against Burma after a new, nominally civilian government took over in March of last year and began implementing political and economic reforms.

Since then, investors have flocked to the once-reclusive but resource-rich country. Burma expects to receive a large number of visitors next year during the Southeast Asian Games and a regional meeting of the World Economic Forum.