Singapore’s OCBC Bank became one of the first three foreign banks to have received final regulatory approval from the Central Bank of Myanmar (CBM) to open a branch in Myanmar.
The final licence was awarded on April 2, and the OCBC Yangon Branch will start operations on April 23.
The approval follows the awarding of provisional banking licences by the CBM in October to nine foreign banks from Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, China, Japan and Australia.
OCBC said its Yangon branch will offer banking services – including cash management, project financing, working capital financing and trade finance, as well as treasury and capital markets advisory and services – to foreign companies and joint ventures, domestic banks in Myanmar.
The bank said it can also provide banking services to local corporates in partnership with local financial institutions. Customers will be able to open current and savings accounts denominated in Kyat, US Dollar and Singapore Dollar, take up loans and apply for trade and foreign exchange facilities, it added.
OCBC said it will be among the first foreign banks to offer internet banking facilities to corporate customers in Myanmar. With its business internet banking platform, Velocity@ocbc, customers will have access to their bank accounts and may initiate payments from anywhere.
The new branch has a registered capital of $ 75 million and is staffed with over 20 employees, more than half of whom are Myanmar nationals. Daniel Tan, currently the general manager designate, will assume the role of general manager of the branch, OCBC said in a statement.
The new branch will be located on the second floor of the Union Financial Centre (UFC), at the corner of Mahabandoola road and Thein Phyu road.
OCBC has had a presence in Myanmar for 60 years, having first operated as a branch for 40 years from 1923 to 1963, and subsequently as a representative office in Yangon over the past 20 years.
The bank said that since receiving its provisional banking licence it has seen a significant increase in queries from both new and existing customers keen to tap on the growth opportunities in Myanmar.
Linus Goh, head of global commercial banking, OCBC Bank, said: “This licence allows us to continue our support of foreign-related investments and projects in the on-going development of the Myanmar economy as well as to support the growth of its banking sector.
“OCBC Yangon Branch is a significant addition to OCBC’s regional footprint, in particular because of the strong interest in Myanmar from our customers across Southeast Asia and Greater China.”
Goh added that in the past 18 months, the bank has seen a 40 percent increase in the number of customers going overseas, and resource-rich Myanmar has become an attractive investment destination for its regional customers, especially with the impending launch of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in December 2015.
Neo Tiam Boon, chief executive officer and executive director of TA Corp Ltd, said: “Besides having to navigate the regulatory and business nuances in a foreign land, we have to contend with differences in financial practices and challenges in finding a local bank that is willing to bank with us. Now that OCBC has a branch in Myanmar, [I hope] we will be able to go to them for our banking needs.”
OCBC Bank has provided financial support to foreign companies for Myanmar-related investments and projects. Two firsts were the financing of 100 Scania coaches to serve the growing needs for cross-country transportation between Yangon, NaypyiTaw and Mandalay; and the non-recourse, cross-border facility for an independent telecommunications infrastructure provider in Myanmar, Pan Asia Majestic Eagle Ltd. Arranged in partnership with four other foreign banks, the $85-million deal supported the rollout of its tower site infrastructure in Myanmar.