Visa International expects the number of Myanmar merchants accepting its credit card for transactions will climb to between 5,000 and 6,000 in 3-5 years.
Like other multinational companies jumping on the investment bandwagon in Myanmar after the US lifted economic sanctions, Visa entered the market a year ago, and about 100 local merchants have installed electronic data capture devices, with another 100 ATMs accepting Visa cards.
Visa card payment and cash withdrawal services are available only for foreign travellers, as Myanmar's central bank does not permit local banks to issue such cards bearing the Visa brand.
Somboon Krobteeranon, the country manager for Thailand and Myanmar, said Visa will gradually develop the credit and debit card business in Myanmar, as it is waiting for infrastructure development and financial regulations.
"Our priority is to pay attention to knowledge transfer in preparation for full business operations in the country. We have to wait for financial regulations and infrastructure improvement, especially the telecommunications system," he said.
Mr Somboon said hopefully the central bank will eventually allow local banks to issue Visa cards.
Visa granted its business licence to eight of Myanmar's 18 banks, of which half already provide payment service at point-of-sale and cash withdrawal via ATMs for Visa cardholders.
The others are preparing for operations.
The licence covers financial transactions for all debit and credit cards.
In Myanmar, 10,000 plastic cards issued by local banks are in circulation.
Competitor MasterCard has also entered the resource-rich country.
In Thailand, 40 million Visa cards are circulated _ 70% debit cards and 30% credit cards.
This article first appeared in the Bangkok Post on August 19, 2013.