Myanmar Junta Restricts Mobile Money Payments to cut Resistance Funding

By The Irrawaddy 18 August 2022

Myanmar’s military regime has ordered mobile money service providers to keep a complete record of users who either transfer or receive mobile payments, in a bid to cut off funding to the country’s resistance movement.

On Monday, the junta issued a directive telling banks and other financial institutions that provide mobile money services to keep the personal information of those who transfer or receive money through their mobile wallet apps.

Under the regime’s order, new users wishing to open a mobile wallet app account are required to submit photos of their citizenship ID card, phone number and a photo of their face.

Observers believe that the new restrictions on mobile money services have been introduced because Myanmar people at home and overseas are using mobile wallet apps to transfer money to resistance forces to fund the fight against the junta.

In Myanmar, mobile wallet services are run by telecom companies as well as private banks. Mobile wallets run by telecom companies include Telenor’s Wave Money, Ooredoo’s M-Pitesan and MPT’s MPT Pay. Bank mobile wallet apps include KBZPay, CB Pay, AYA Pay, and OnePay.

Wave Money, which is also linked with Yoma Bank, and KBZPay are probably the most popular mobile money apps among Myanmar users.

The junta has also instructed service providers to upgrade their app system so that the name of the recipient of a money transfer appears once the sender types their phone number into the mobile money app.

Mobile money agents have also been told to install CCTV cameras at their shops to record who is transferring or withdrawing money.

Since last year, the regime has frozen the bank accounts and mobile money wallets of people who give financial support to the anti-coup resistance.