Burma Allows Foreign Currency Bank Accounts

By May Lay 13 July 2012

Burma’s Central Bank (CB) allowed 11 local public banks to operate foreign currency accounts on Monday in the first step towards an international finance system deemed crucial for allowing foreign direct investment.

However, people can only perform money transfers from one account to another inside Burma during the preliminary roll-out stage. “I hope they will very soon allow doing business with international banks with this foreign currency account,” said a manager for one of the country’s leading domestic banks.

Ayeyawaddy Bank, Asia Green Development (AGD) Bank, Commercial Bank and United Amaya are among those popular high street institutions allowing the new service. Customers can open accounts with different currencies such as Foreign Exchange Certificates (FECs), US dollars, euros and Singapore dollars.

“It takes 100 FECs [to open a] FEC account, US $100 for an American dollar account, 100 euros for euro account and 100 Singapore dollars for a Singapore account,” added the manager.

“[The CB] has already allowed operating foreign currency accounts to 11 out of a total of 19 local public banks in Burma,” said a CB spokesman. “But only four banks were running on July 9. The other public banks permitted are preparing to launch in this month.”

But restrictions remain on the opening of foreign currency bank accounts in Burma. “People have to show some documents for foreign accounts such as the receipt paper from an official exchange currency center, official foreign salary documents and so on,” said a spokesman for AGD Bank.

The 11 banks that have been allowed to operate foreign currency accounts are Myanmar Apex Bank, Myanmar Eastern Bank, Commercial Bank, United Amaya Bank, Myanmar Industrial Development Bank, Inn Wa Bank, Tun Foundation Bank, Ayeyawaddy Bank, Myawaddy bank, AGD Bank and Kanbawza Bank.

“We are now preparing and will start this operation next week,” said a spokesperson for Myanmar Apex Bank.