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Myanmar Citizens Bank to increase SME access to finance

Yangon-listed Myanmar Citizens Bank (MCB) inked an agreement with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to increase access to finance for small businesses and individuals.

The IFC will provide advice to the public lender to transform and modernise its business operations to better serve small businesses.

The project will be delivered over two years and will focus on optimising products and channels, improving branch and sales networks, optimising credit and risk management strategies as well as streamlining organisational management.

“Successfully implementing this transformation project will significantly strengthen our SME and retail banking segments and will help thousands of businesses in Myanmar gain access to better banking,” said MCB chair U Toe Aung Myint.

The Findex study in 2017 estimated that around 26 percent of adults in Myanmar have an account at a financial institution. For businesses, only 7pc of SMEs have a line of credit or loan, and 56pc of enterprises in Myanmar do not have a savings or checking account.

“Emerging from the long-term banking restrictions, smaller domestic banks in Myanmar operate in a challenging environment. The nation’s banking sector is now one of the least developed in the region,” commented Vikram Kumar, IFC Myanmar manager.

“Complementing the government’s banking reforms over the past few years, IFC and MCB are building to a more stable and robust banking environment, which will increase investor confidence in Myanmar.”

Founded by the Ministry of Commerce in 1991, the MCB launched its bank services one year later. Its initial role was to process foreign exchange for exporters, at a time when two state banks were the only ones that offered the service. MCB was listed on the Yangon Stock Exchange in August 2016.

The IFC says the project is in line with the government’s Sustainable Development Plan to 2030 and with IFC’s goals to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity. The institution has invested in two other projects to boost Myanmar’s banking sector.

“Providing access to banking services which were previously unavailable is one of the first steps to alleviating poverty,” it said.

Source: Myanmar Times

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