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Visa prepares to enter Myanmar market

Myanmar’s economy is cash-dominated/XINHUA-File

NEW YORK, Aug 17 – The credit and debit payments company Visa is preparing to enter the Myanmar market and has started training local bank workers on how to use electronic transfer systems, a report said on Friday.

Visa said that an influx of international visitors following the easing of some international sanctions on Myanmar had created new business opportunities and demand for customers who may not wish to carry cash.

Peter Maher, Visa Group country manager for Southeast Asia and Australasia, told the Wall Street Journal that its initial efforts would focus on creating a network of automated teller machines (ATMs) and electronic payment terminals.

“That is where we will focus first,” he said.

Myanmar’s economy is cash-dominated and visitors usually need to equip themselves with bundles of hard currency.

Although Visa has not opened an office in Myanmar, the country formerly known as Burma, it will partner with local banks and establish training workshops in the coming months, the report said. It has already held one such two-day event.

“The sooner we deliver electronic payments, the sooner Myanmar will benefit from the increased spending,” Maher told the newspaper.

Myanmar President Thein Sein has overseen a series of dramatic reforms since taking office last year, including the release of political prisoners and the election of Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi to parliament.

US President Barack Obama has since eased restrictions on Myanmar in hopes of encouraging further reform. On July 11, he gave approval to US companies to invest in Myanmar and partner with its controversial state oil and gas company.

But earlier this month US lawmakers voted to extend by one year a ban on imports from Myanmar, seeking to maintain pressure while acknowledging the early stages of the country’s exit from fully fledged military rule.

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