The Myanmar military, which has controlled the government since the forcible detention of many elected leaders in 2021, is reportedly planning to issue a digital currency to help the local economy.
Major General Zo Min Tun said the introduction of the digital currency “will help improve financial activity in Myanmar,” according to a Bloomberg report Thursday, but the military has not decided whether to work with local companies or issue the token on its own. Tun, head of the military government’s “True News Information Group”, acts as a spokesman for the Myanmar army.
The digital currency is designed to support payments in Myanmar as well as improve the economy. According to a January 25 report, the World Bank estimated that the country’s economy will grow by just 1% by September 2022 due to the effects of the pandemic and the overthrow of the civilian government. Growth in the economy was reportedly “about 30 percent less than it would have been in the absence of COVID-19 and the February 2021 upheaval.”
It is unclear whether the introduction of the digital currency – the report does not suggest any involvement in the operation of the Central Bank of Myanmar – will have a positive impact on the economy or encourage residents to make purchases. The central bank had previously announced that anyone in Myanmar caught trading in digital assets could be jailed or fined, but that was before the military took control.
“At the moment, we are still exploring digital currencies and having discussions,” said Win Myint, director general of the Monetary Authority Department of the Central Bank of Myanmar. “You have to weigh both the pros and cons.”
The country’s shadow government, led by supporters of detained state adviser Aung San Suu Kyi, announced in December that it would recognize Tether (USDT) as the official currency. The group continues to raise funds to overthrow the military government as reports of war crimes circulate.
Myanmar’s military junta set fire to almost 100 houses in Tantlang on the anniversary of the coup. This needs to be stopped. The junta must be held accountable for its actions in the IUC/ICC.#WarCrimes #CrimesAgainstHumanity Photo credit: Chin World pic.twitter.com/a8CmubuvsS — Zin Mar Aung (@ZinMarAungNUG) February 3, 2022
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If its central bank later issues a Myanmar digital currency, it will be one of the few to be distributed around the world. China is currently allowing foreign athletes attending the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics to send and receive digital yuan. The Bahamas was the first country to launch a central bank digital currency in October 2020.