16 August 2021, Sittwe
Some online money transfer service providers anticipate challenges this week as banks are shuttered at the instruction of the military government.
The Central Bank of Myanmar announced that all banks in Myanmar were to suspend operations from August 16-22 as part of efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19.
“Our business depends on the banks,” said Ko Khany Htae, an online money transfer service provider in Ramree Township, Arakan State. “When banks suspend their services, we cannot give the required amount of money to our customers. Eventually, when we do not have cash, we have to suspend our services.”
Myanmar banks have limited cash withdrawals following the coup on February 1, and online money transfer services have served as an alternative means of transacting business and personal affairs.
Traders in Arakan State say they have come to depend on online money transfer services rather than banking services to buy goods from outside the state.
Ko Tun Tun, an online money transfer service provider in Mrauk-U town, said he was concerned about suspending his business if banks remained closed beyond this week.
“If we cannot withdraw cash from the bank, we can transfer money between accounts. If the situation gets worse, we’ll have to suspend the service. If banks are closed for a long time, the service will surely be suspended,” he said.
Additional fees have also affected users of money service providers such as Wave Money and K-Pay in the months since the coup.
“It was convenient to use the services of Wave Money or K-Pay in previous years. But we face some difficulty using them this year. I have to pay some percentage of our money to the service provider when I take out my training fee,” said Ko Nyi Khaing Thwee, a teacher of a private language class in the Arakan State capital Sittwe.