Coming soon - Myanmar Financial Services Monitor

FMR is pleased to announce that its new subscription service, the Myanmar Financial Services Monitor, will be launched in April 2018.

This is a hugely exciting industry to cover, and one undergoing rapid innovation and growth. Our new service will track banking, insurance, capital markets and microfinance, featuring daily and weekly briefs, detailed company profiles, a data library and other information resources.

This will be FMR’s fourth subscription service, with our current coverage spanning energy, real estate and construction, and transport infrastructure.

To mark the launch of our financial services coverage, FMR is delighted to have partnered with the British Chamber in Myanmar to research a one-off report on the sector, which will also be published in April. Watch this space for more detail, but to register your interest please email us on

A snapshot of some key industry trends is as follows:


Myanmar’s banks are busy adapting to the country’s economic transformation. Almost all of the top 10 largest lenders have upgraded their core banking systems, or are in the midst of doing so. Mobile and online banking has become commonplace, and hundreds of thousands of credit and debit cards have been issued.

Some lenders have seen deposits grow more than 20% year-on-year, and there is huge potential for banks to expand given that around 80% of the population is estimated to be unbanked. 

After years of being required to lend only against strict collateral rules, banks are now experimenting with lending against cash flows and receivables. The more sophisticated players have recently begun offering modern treasury products like swaps, forwards and repos.

However, banks still face a 13% interest rate cap on lending, and the lack of a central credit bureau makes risk assessment difficult. Many lenders still ask for land as collateral, preventing many potential borrowers including SMEs from accessing credit.

At the same time, some banks are struggling with new prudential regulations, many of which came into force in mid-2017. They warn than the Central Bank is imposing capital requirements that will pull billions of dollars’ worth of credit out of the economy.

Many of the main banks have had discussions with potential foreign investors, and the new regulations have only made the need for fresh capital more urgent.


Local insurers remain trapped in a strict regulatory regime that requires them to offer the same suite of products at exactly the same rate.

Foreign insurers, meanwhile, are still barred from operating. But the regulator is in the process of deciding the terms on which foreign firms will be allowed to enter the market. Local firms are hoping to soon be allowed to form joint-ventures with foreign partners and at long last operate in market where they can design their own products and premium rates.

Many players see significant change in the insurance market in the years ahead, given the still nascent structure of the industry.


MFIs are hopeful that reforms in the banking sector will help solve one of their biggest problems — access to capital. New regulations in 2016 lifted caps on MFIs taking voluntary deposits from customers, but they remained barred from taking deposits from the general public.

Local banks, with limited expertise in microfinance and a preference for land as collateral, have been reluctant to lend to the sector.

But MFIs continue to expand, and demand for credit is still far in excess of what the sector can provide. Sri Lanka's Commercial Bank subsidiary CBC Myanmar Microfinance Co became the latest foreign entrant, receiving an MFI license in early 2018.

Foreign investors are also looking at the microfinance sector, potentially as an alternative to conventional banking.

Capital markets

More than two years after it was established the Yangon Stock Exchange remains a lonely place with only five listings and minimal trading volumes.

The bond market consists solely of government Treasury auctions, which are open only to banks and sold at unappetising rates. But the YSX has renewed efforts to attract public companies to consider listing, and the Securities and Exchange Commission of Myanmar is working on a framework for municipal and corporate bonds.

This is likely to take time to materialise, but would offer a new investment product for institutional and retail investors, a new tradable product for the YSX and a source of funds for companies struggling to access bank loans.