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Defying the Pandemic Cathay United Bank Yangon Branch Officially Opens

The Yangon Branch of Cathay United Bank (the Bank) was granted preliminary approval by the Central Bank of Myanmar in April, 2020. The president Alan Lee said that this year, despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, they have successfully established the Yangon Branch with the efforts of their colleagues in Myanmar and Taiwan and the spirit of “One Team”. They hope to continue to contribute to the Myanmar in the future. Successful Opening Despite Severe Pandemic since 2010, when the economic and political reforms were initiated and the country was opened to foreign direct investment.

Myanmar economy has grown rapidly, with an average GDP growth rate of over 6% from 2016. In 2014, the Bank established a representative office in Yangon, the commercial capital of Myanmar. By deeply cultivating the local market, grasping business dynamics, and building a network of relationships over the past 6 years, the Bank has planted the seed of success for the Yangon Branch. Myanmar has been hit hard by COVID-19 with over 120,000 confirmed cases by the end of 2020. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic during the preparation phase, the Bank is able to open its branch within 9 months of approval through the efforts of supervisors and staff in Myanmar, supported by remote technology from the HO.

The Yangon Branch will focus on corporate banking business, provide deposits, remittances, corporate loans, syndicated Loans, project finance, trade finance and other financial services in local currency and USD, target local medium & large enterprises and Taiwanese enterprises, and assiduously participate in infrastructure and economic development projects. With a strong presence in Greater China and Southeast Asia, combined with the expertise and passion of the professionals, the Bank expects to provide quality, complete, and comprehensive cross- border financial services, creating a win-win scenario for both customers and the Bank.

Source: Myanmar Times

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The Central Bank of Myanmar (CBM) has approved two more foreign remittance licenses to reduce the number of illegal remittance transactions and create more remittance transactions

The Central Bank of Myanmar (CBM) has issued two more foreign remittance licenses to reduce the number of illegal remittances and legalize remittances, and will be able to officially accept and send remittances. City Express Myanmar Ltd and Money King Co., Ltd were re-licensed by the Central Bank on 5 January 2021. The Central Bank of Myanmar started issuing foreign currency remittance licenses to five companies on November 18, 2020: OK Zune Co., Ltd .; 2C2P Plus (Myanmar) Co., Ltd; Wakhema Trading Co., Ltd; Top Shine General Services Co., Ltd; and OKM Global Remittance, which now has seven foreign remittance licenses. The holder of the foreign remittance business license must deposit 100 million kyats as security deposit and if the central bank directs that the business insurance deposit should be more than 100 million kyats due to the large size of the business, the licensee must comply with the instructions. 

The Revolving Fund must be kept in a separate account at an AD licensed bank and the bank statement of each bank account must be submitted to the Central Bank once a month. Holders of foreign remittance licenses are required to carry out Inward and Outward Remittance Business between Myanmar and other countries and receive money only for the purpose of remittance. Receiving money for remittances abroad when conducting remittance services; Remittances received in Myanmar must be made in Myanmar Kyats only. Foreign remittance services must be carried out only in the area permitted by the license. Back End Transactions can be carried out as a batch transaction between a local bank account and a private bank account or agent or branch or branch bank account or joint venture bank account. 

Netting must be done and remittances must be made through AD licensed banks. Once a month, the Central Bank of Myanmar shall submit the bank statement of the account opened abroad of the remittance business. The financial statements shall be submitted to the Foreign Exchange Management Department and shall be submitted to the Central Bank in accordance with the prescribed schedule. The maximum remittance amount per remittance or remittance amount is US $ 1,000, and the central bank limits the amount per remittance or remittance amount per person to US $ 5,000 per month.

Holders of foreign remittance licenses are required to comply with anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism provisions, and must report any suspected remittances in the remittance, which shall be maintained for at least five years. The initial license fee for foreign money transfer is one million kyats. The annual fee is 100,000 kyats and the license is valid for three years. Holders of foreign remittance licenses will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including revocation of their licenses if they violate the rules and regulations set by the Central Bank, and will face a fine of not less than 10 million kyats for each non-compliance.

Source: Daily Eleven

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First modern credit bureau launched in Myanmar

Myanmar Credit Bureau Limited (MMCB) on December 30 launched the country’s first and only modern credit bureau.

MMCB, which is licensed by the Central Bank of Myanmar (CBM), will provide Myanmar with a modern credit reporting system that will enable lenders to expand the financing options available for individuals and businesses. It will also encourage more responsible lending in the country. The bureau has been centralising information gathered from financial institutions in Myanmar about their borrowers since its soft launch in November. This includes borrowers’ personal and contact information, credit accounts and repayment history as well as information on any collateral listed to obtain a loan. MMCB does not collect information on borrowers’ net worth, assets or bank deposit amounts.

With this information, the bureau produces credit reports on individuals or corporates to help financial institutions make better lending decisions and lower the risk of defaults. Borrowers, in turn, should expect faster and more competitive services from lenders. MMCB, which received its license from the CBM in May 2018, currently has over 220 potential members including national and local banks, foreign bank branches, and non-bank financial institutions. It plans to widen membership and expand its product and service offerings to include credit scores and data analytics reports over the next two years.

The bureau is a 60:40 joint venture between MB Investment, a company formed by members of the Myanmar Banks Association, and Singapore-listed Credit Bureau Asia’s wholly-owned subsidiary NSP Asia Investment Holding. Credit Bureau Asia, which also operates the sole credit bureau in Cambodia, made its debut on the Singapore Exchange in December 2 at 93 cents per share. The company’s shares closed at $1.17 each before the announcement.

Source: Myanmar Times

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AYA bank reconsiders its plan to collect service fees after backlash

AYA Bank is reconsidering a decision to collect K500 in service charges for maintaining customers’ savings accounts starting from January 1 and they will officially announce the collecting system and period. The bank has announced on December 24 that it would automatically deduct K500 from customers as a monthly fee for maintaining their savings accounts (excluding fixed deposit accounts) starting January1, 2021.

After customers criticised its decision to do so however, the bank removed the statement for hours later. It is also clarified that the announcement was meant to be an internal one for now and that fees will be inevitable in the long run. Currently, they will not consider the monthly fees. They are thinking about once a quarter instead but a formal decision has not been made yet. They pointed out that fee deductions represent normal practice in international banks.

In the view of account holders, banks are already earning from spread between the rates for deposits and loans. Without accepting deposits, banks cannot survive. Service charges on ATM cards or credit cards are acceptable but being charged to maintain the deposit account isn’t acceptable. According to the Central Bank of Myanmar, it is not yet standard practice for Myanmar banks to collect service charges on deposits. However, the banks can choose to do so and there is no requirement to submit an application to the Central Bank.

Source: Myanmar Times

Wave Money wins“Best Digital Wallet of the Year” and“Best Mobile Payments Service” at Global Retail Banking Innovation 2020

Wave Money, the leading mobile financial service provider in Myanmar, won the “Best Digital Wallet of the Year” and “Best Mobile Payments Service” award at the Global Retail Banking Innovation 2020 organized by the Digital Banker. Wave Money was highly commended for delivering innovative services and social impact, particularly to the unbanked and underserved communities. Heldin Singapore, the annual awards recognized Wave Money as an outstanding financial institution among the world’s top financial institutions, and that showed excellence in digital
innovation, social and digital inclusion, and service delivery to vulnerable sectors during this COVID-19 pandemic.

The Digital Banker is a global trusted news, business intelligence and research partner to the worldwide financial services sector. One of its flagship programmes, the Global Retail Banking Innovation Awards recognizes and celebrates the world’s outstanding retail banking and financial institutions with a distinguished contribution to the industry.
Best Digital Wallet Launched in 2018, WavePay is a super app that meets the lifestyle needs of digital natives while helping advance greater financial inclusion among the unbanked population in the countryside.


WavePay is a convenient, secure, simple and reliable way to remit and receive money, pay utility bills and loans, top-up mobile services, shop online as well as pay at physical checkout counters. In October 2020, Wave Money has set a new record as the WavePay application crossed 1.1 million monthly active users, and an impressive daily average growth of 162% in new WavePay registrations this year. Best Mobile Payment Service Wave Money has brought the benefits of financial services to millions of Myanmar people who were previously unbanked and underserved. During this challenging COVID-19 era, Wave Money has been fully leveraging its platform to help the Myanmar community.


Millions are using WavePay to conveniently and securely transfer money and make daily payments and financial transactions in the comfort and safety of their homes. Government, humanitarian agencies and corporates are also using WavePay to digitallydelivering COVID-19 emergency cash to vulnerable sectors, including at-risk communities in rural, remote Myanmar Wave Money also initiated “WavePay It Forward” to help government, non-government institutions, and humanitarian agencies leverage the digital to deliver essential payments and mobilize relief funds for those severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wave Money has the largest agent network in Myanmar, covering 89% of the country with over 64,000 agents as of November 2020. Over the years, Wave Money has seen exceptional business and customer growth, which reflects service and technology excellence. From an annual remittance value of 2 trillion Myanmar kyat in 2018, Wave Money moved 6.4 trillion Myanmar kyat (US$ 4.3 billion) in 2019. As of September 2020, Wave Money’s total remittance value was already at 8 trillion MMK (US$5.9 billion).

Source: The Global New Light of Myanmar

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NearMe, OK Dollar join forces for easier digital payments

Two Myanmar digital payment firms have partnered up to push for a cashless system in the country. The two digital service providers, offline payment aggregator NearMe and mobile wallet service OK Dollar, have jointly announced a collaboration to offer digital payments for NearMe’s micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in the country.

The partnership is an effort to encourage the customers of NearMe’s retail partners throughout the country to limit the infection risks by using digital options like OK Dollar, according to the companies’ release. This partnership is an effect to reduce the usage of cash spending during the COVID-19 period. Starting from this year, their retail and delivery partners like OK Dollar can accept multiple payments. With the steady growth of users, NearMe is well-positioned to meet the needs of the businesses in Myanmar by extending reach and accessibility offline through the timely collaboration with OK Dollar.

Launched in 2015, NearMe enables retailers to sell digital goods and tickets, collect bill payments, process personal loan applications, and accept electronic payments. The firms has over 50,000 retail partners nationwide. In September, NearMe attracted financial help from Sumitomo Corp, a Japanese Fortune 500 global trading and business investment company. The funds will enable NearMe to offer more digital solutions to its retail partners seeking technology to help them grow in the post COVID-19 period.

Source: Myanmar Times

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KB Bank Myanmar to begin operations in December

South Korea’s largest housing finance bank, KB Bank, has announced that it will formally launch KB Bank Myanmar in December. KB Bank was one of the seven foreign banks to be awarded a license to operate in Myanmar by the Central Bank of Myanmar in April this year. With a license in place, it will bring in a large amount of foreign direct investment into Myanmar, KB Bank stated.

The bank plans to sell advanced financial products in the country, offer financial support to domestic businesses and SMEs, real estate and infrastructure finance, and other new instruments and services. Three of the Korea-based KB Financial Group subsidiaries now provide financial services in Myanmar, including KB Bank, KB Kookmin Card (KB Card) and KB Microfinance. The bank has already received a license to operate, the KB Card has been in Myanmar since 2017, and is awaiting final approval for its 2018 license application to operate as a non-banking financial institution in Myanmar.

The KB Card, once approved, will offer care hire purchase facilities to customers, besides instalment based loans for purchase of mobile phones and high-end home appliances. It plans to expand through a network of branches in Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw. KB Microfinance has been operating in Myanmar since 2017 through its 21 branches in various states and divisions in the country. It has been lending funds for homes and small businesses to the local people.

Source: Myanmar Times

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DHL Express raises investment in Asia as e-commerce expands

DHL Express will spend close to EUR 750 million to expand its global infrastructure and network over the next two years, the company said this month. Around EUR 60 million to expand its air network in Asia Pacific by introducing new direct flight routes connecting its logistics hubs in the region to Yangon and Vientiane in Laos. DHL Express said it expects shipment volumes in Asia Pacific to be 30percent-40pc larger than last year’s peak season, which typically starts around November and lasts until the Lunar New Year.

Ken Lee, CEO of DHL Express Asia Pacific, said the investment are “crucial” as the company is anticipating an “usually strong peak season.” The expanded infrastructure and new flight routes across Asia Pacific will also position the company to benefit from a growing e-commerce market and cross- border trade in the longer run, he said. Since the start of 2020, DHL Express has experienced a 50 pc surge in e-commerce shipments in Asia Pacific (excluding China), the company said. DHL Express will invest EUR 25 million to build a new facility in Bangladesh that will combine its country office and service center into a 10,000 sqm site.

The new facility will bring about an approximate 35pc increase in shipment processing capacity, and is expected to be opened in 2022. Meanwhile, the company will triple its capacity in Malaysia, with a new EUR39.4 million facility enabling it to increase its processing capacity by more than 200pc in the region. This, too, is scheduled to be completed by 2022. At the same time, construction of a new gateway facility in Bangalore, India is underway, slated to be ready by 2021. The company will also build new facilities in Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea countries and new airline networks will be expanded to Beijing and Yangon.

Source: Myanmar Times

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Manulife launches two life insurance plans to help families in Myanmar

Manulife Myanmar has launched two life insurance products designed to help families make better financial decisions and improve their financial security. Families in Myanmar can now choose Manulife Protector to safeguard their financial future and Manulife Education Life to save for a child’s education. Both plans also offer unique COVID-19 benefits. Manulife Protector is a comprehensive life insurance plan that is designed to protect the insured’s family in an unexpected and unfortunate event when the insured can no longer do so. Also, it is kind of long-term savings if the protection is not needed.

Customers can start a life insurance plan for K5,000,000 with flexible payment terms. The oldest age for life insurance is 55 years old for the 10-year plan and 45 years old for the 20-year plan. Manulife Education Life allows parents to save for their child’s future education, with insurance to take care of the child’s education needs in the unexpected and unfortunate event if they are not able to do so. It can start with a face amount of K5,000,000 and offers flexible premium payment terms, as well as the option to select Double Benefit for extra life insurance protection. Customers that purchase either plan from now until 31 December 2020 are automatically entitled to special COVID-19 benefits that cover themselves and immediate family members.

These provide a potential maximum one-time K600,000 total payouts if the life insured and/or their immediate family members (maximum four payments per family) are diagnosed with COVID-19; a further K600,000 to cover intensive care costs if the life insured is hospitalized in an ICU ward; and an extra death benefit of K6,000,000, if the life insured unfortunately passes away due to COVID-19.Manulife Protector and Manulife Education Life are now available. Customers can purchase the plans from Manulife agents. 

Source: The Global New Light of Myanmar

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KBZ Bank partners Tranglo to facilitate inbound foreign remittance

Myanmar’s Kanbawza (KBZ) Bank and Malaysia-based cross-border payments provider Tranglo have formed a remittance partnership to facilitate inbound money transfers directly into the accounts of KBZ Bank customers. The service, which has been approved by the Central Bank of Myanmar, allows Myanmar citizens working in Singapore, Malaysia and South Korea to send money home more cheaply and efficiently without the need to go through traditional or informal means of remitting money, which can be expensive, troublesome and risky.

Beneficiaries will receive the money in real-time in their current, savings deposit or call deposit accounts with KBZ Bank and be able to withdraw the funds via ATM or access the money through KBZPay. Those who wish to remit money to Myanmar through Tranglo can do so at Tranglo’s counters in Malaysia or the branches of its partners such as GPL and MaxMoney in Malaysia, SlidesSG in Singapore, or GME in South Korea. The maximum amount for each remittance transaction to Myanmar is the equivalent of US$5000 in the local kyat.

With the KBZ Bank Partnership, Tranglo will extend its global network – which now includes countries such as China, Indonesia and Singapore – to include Myanmar. For Tranglo, Myanmar represents a significant market in an increasingly competitive remittance industry. The World Bank estimates that more than US$3 billion was formally remitted by Myanmar migrant workers in 2019, approximately 4.6 percent of Myanmar’s GDP. This does not include the funds that are informally remitted through brokers or hand-carried back home.

Source: Myanmar Times