6 June 2024

One of Myanmar’s leading private banks has launched a digital money remittance service for Myanmar migrant workers in Thailand, coinciding with a new official requirement for them to remit at least 25% of their income back home.

The remittance service, by Kanbawza (KBZ) Bank, is being provided in partnership with Thailand’s Kasikorn Bank in the face of an intensifying dollar crunch in Myanmar. The two banks have combined their respective digital wallet services; KBZ’s Kpay and Kasikorn’s KPlus, to facilitate remittances from Thailand.

While many welcome the combining of the popular applications, Myanmar workers in Thailand and their family members back home see the transaction rates as too expensive, considering that foreign currency exchange rates at the banks provide are much lower than those in the private market.

“It will be very convenient, because Kpay is very popular in Myanmar and I hear that KPlus’s services are very good. I’m not sure about the exchange rates, though, let alone their fees,” said a 50-year-old woman in Tamwe township, whose son is working somewhere in Samut Sakhon, which hosts the largest population of Myanmar migrant workers in Thailand.

Monetary authorities held a meeting in July to discuss a plan to enforce a regulation that would require Myanmar’s migrant workers to remit at least 25% of their earnings. While how this will be enforced remains unclear, the Commerce and Trade Ministry’s permanent secretary, Min, has said that earnings by migrant workers will be put under the country’s banking system.

It is understood, however, that the military-led government will start by requiring recruitment agencies to revise their contracts with migrant workers and to be responsible for transferring the 25% through Myanmar’s banking system.

Many point out, however, that new remittance requirement and the subsequent launch of the remittance service by KBZ and Kasikorn comes amid an increasing shortage of US dollars in Myanmar.

According to 2022 data from the Thai Labour Ministry, there were nearly 2 million Myanmar migrants working legally in Thailand.