ANZ has officially opened a representative office in Myanmar, which is emerging from years of military dictatorship, after receiving the government’s final approval.
The move comes as financial institutions from around the world are studying how they can tap into the development of Myanmar’s nascent financial markets.
Some have already expressed interest in setting up or have already taken steps to provide financial services to the Southeast Asian country’s growing population of more than 60 million, such as Mastercard, Standard Chartered and Japanese and Korean firms.
However, financial institutions still face considerable hurdles to doing business in Myanmar, such as the country’s patchy infrastructure and compliance with continuing sanctions.
Last week, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ agreed to pay a US regulator $250 million for breaching sanctions on countries including Myanmar.
“[The fine] highlights operational risk that international expansion brings,” says credit rating agency Fitch, such as rising costs for complying with many different legal and regulatory frameworks, and also in strengthening compliance systems to support operations in diverse markets.
Last December, ANZ became the first Australian bank to win approval to establish a presence in Myanmar after the easing of international sanctions in 2012. Australia for one has been strengthening trade ties with Myanmar.
“Our new Myanmar representative office further strengthens ANZ’s ability to connect customers across our super regional network,” said Gilles Plante, ANZ’s Asia-Pacific chief executive.
The representative office will be the first point of contact for customers interested in doing business in Myanmar, and for businesses in Myanmar looking for opportunities in the 33 markets where ANZ operates across the Asia-Pacific region, Europe, America and the Middle East.
ANZ’s group representative in Myanmar is Rajesh Ahuja.