The Central Bank of Myanmar (CBM) suspended the acceptance of mobile payments from “Zero-Budget” tourists

26 Dec 2019
The Central Bank of Myanmar (CBM) suspended the acceptance of mobile payments from “Zero-Budget” tourists

In the wake of the government’s relaxation of visa rules allowing visitors of certain nationalities to obtain visa on arrival, Chinese travelers have poured into the country.
The number of Chinese tourist arrivals from January to October of this year reached 1.5 million, a 161 percent increase over the same period last year, making the Chinese the largest group of visitors to Myanmar. As they often spend the least among visitors of all nationalities, only stay in Chinese-owned hotels and eat at Chinese-owned restaurants, Chinese visitors are often called “zero-budget tourists” by those in the local tourism industry.
That some of them have been found to break Myanmar cultural rules during their visit has created an added headache for tourism operators and workers and the public at large.
These problems prompted Member of Parliament U Aung Kyaw Kyaw Oo to ask the government on December 10 if it has a plan to ban WeChat Pay and Alipay, which are mostly used by so-called “zero-budget” Chinese travelers.
“These payment methods are legal in China. The money spent in Myanmar through these platforms only goes back to China,” the MP pointed out.
In response to the question, Deputy Minister of Hotels and Tourism U Tin Latt said that the Central Bank of Myanmar had ordered local businesses to suspend accepting payments via WeChat Pay and Alipay from this group of tourists.
The minister went on to say that the government will monitor payments and receipts of payments in dollars for goods and services at local hotels, restaurants and souvenir shops that violate the order to accept payment only in Kyats.
As selling tour packages at low prices to so-called zero-budget tourists constitutes a violation of the Competition Law, the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism is in talks with other relevant government departments to explore taking action against such activities.
In March, the central bank started allowing WeChat Pay, which is popular among Chinese tourists, on a trial basis and in July extended the scheme for another three months.
The central bank is in talks with local banks, international organizations, mobile money transfer services and Myanmar Payment Union (MPU) representatives to set international EMV and MMQR Code standards in order to standardize payments via QR Code.


(Myanmar Business Today: )


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