Burma: Private Banks To Reintroduce ATMs


By Thurein Soe

As Burma’s economists go to work on rejuvenating the country’s moribund banking sector, residents of Rangoon may soon benefit from the reintroduction of automatic teller machines (ATMs) and banking cards.

Kanbawza Bank is one of a number of banks given permission to install ATMs, a luxury only afforded by private enterprises. An official there told DVB on condition of anonymity that machines were already being installed at the headquarters in the former capital’s Kamaryut township, and at three other branches.

“We are going to provide ATM services free of charge for now as it’s only been approved in Rangoon so far,” he said.

The scheme, still in its infancy, will be trialled for one year, and Kanbawza will begin with just four machines. The Voice journal said the first one thousand users will get the service free of charge.

“There are more that will arrive by the end of this month and we are planning to install them in essential areas and at our other branches in Rangoon,” he continued, adding that the maximum withdrawal amount would be one million kyat (US$1,170) per day.

First introduced in the mid-1990s, ATMs and banking cards were withdrawn in the banking crisis of 2003. Now 13 private banks have been permitted to use them.

The managing director of Asia Green Development bank, Ye Min Oo, told the Myanmar Times in September that Mandalay and the capital, Naypyidaw, would also see a reintroduction of machines.

The announcement is the latest in a flurry of measures aimed at overhauling Burma’s beleaguered economy, and follows reports late last month that the government had committed to developing a viable stock exchange by 2015.

A team from the IMF was in the country last week to advise the government on how to reform the country’s multiple exchange rates, seen as one of the prime stumbling blocks for more general reform of the economy.

Democratic Voice of Burma

The Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) is a non-profit Burmese media organization committed to responsible journalism.

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