“This presents an alternative option for the growing number of locals who’ve had to carry wads of cash when they leave the country for business or leisure travel. It offers them a safe and secure payment method while abroad.”

Overall consumer optimism is at an extreme high in Myanmar (96.0 Index points according to the latest MasterCard Index TM of Consumer Confidence). According to the MasterCard survey of Consumer Purchasing Priorities, nearly two-thirds of people who have traveled abroad intend to do so again within the next 12 months, making the introduction of a prepaid travel card timely for the market.

“Part of our financial inclusion strategy in Myanmar is to educate the local population about the value of electronic payments – we would like to help them understand the benefits of doing away with cash,” Driver added.

US sanctions on exporting financial services to Myanmar were eased on July 11 last year, allowing the first US investment in the country in nearly 15 years. The launch of a new prepaid card marks another vital step forward in the country’s reform of its banking and financial system.

MasterCard was the first international payments network   to issue a license to a Myanmar bank in September last year, paving the way international payment cards to be accepted in the country for the first time. In November, MasterCard and Co-operative Bank Ltd ( CB Bank) teamed up to launch the  first ATM transaction at one of the bank’s Yangon ATMs.

It is expected that more than 500 restaurants, retail outlets and hotels in Myanmar will be accepting payment cards by the end of the year, following the  rollout of Point-of-Sale (POS) terminals in March this year with CB Bank.

About MasterCard

MasterCard (NYSE: MA), www.mastercard.com, is a technology company in the global payments industry. We operate the world’s fastest payments processing network, connecting consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories. MasterCard’s products and solutions make everyday commerce activities – such as shopping, traveling, running a business and managing finances – easier, more secure and more efficient for everyone. Follow us on Twitter @MasterCardNews , join the discussion on the Cashless Pioneers Blog and subscribe for the latest news on the Engagement Bureau.

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