Credit card and ATM use by travelers in the Southeast Asian country of Myanmar is breaking through the shackles of previous financial sanctions. The barring of credit card use and ATMs for visitors originated as a reaction of the United States and European Union to the country’s previous military government. Democratic reforms earlier this year saw the constraints lifted so that now visitors to the country can make purchases with a variety of businesses now accepting credit cards.
In fact, Myanmar also signed deals with Visa for three of its banks, Kanbawza Bank, Cooperative Bank, and Myanmar Oriental Bank. In September of this year, Myanmar’s CB Bank signed a similar deal with MasterCard to set up ATMs and point-of-sale machines designed to accept foreign credit cards. This modernization should help Myanmar to improve its tourism industry as well as the country’s financial framework.
For the time being, travelers and investors still need to carry their cash with them when traveling to Myanmar. The process of restructuring the banks as well as the country’s ability in accepting credit cards may face delays due to a lack of steady electricity in various parts of the country, as well as other possible challenges. The earliest time for travelers to use their credit cards (by foreign issuers) is expected for sometime in early 2013.