MasterCard Inc. says it has issued a license to one of Burma’s largest banks to offer services at ATMs and private companies.
The country only installed ATM machines for local banks last year, and the number is still limited in Burma.
A MasterCard Worldwide official said the company's license agreement is with the Co-Operative Bank Ltd., known as CB Bank.
The private bank, set up in 1992, is the first of several banks MasterCard will be teaming with in the coming months, said an article in The Wall Street Journal on Thursday.
The potential prize is access to one of the world's last undeveloped financial markets, with some 60 million residents, of whom only one million use banking services after decades of living under an oppressive regime.
Long ago, Burma was one of Asia's leading financial centers, and the city of Rangoon still has rows of imposing, colonnaded foreign bank offices from the 1930s, many of which are now abandoned.
The country nationalized its foreign banks in the 1960s. A new, nominally civilian government took power last year and has pushed through sweeping financial reforms.
MasterCard's announcement follows an earlier move by Visa Inc., which said in August that it had begun training and preparing local banks to use electronic payment systems, including issuing credit-card facilities.