Disclaimer: At the time of this article, there have been rumors that trading crypto-currencies may become illegal in Myanmar. Internet in Myanmar will never encourage anyone to violate the law. Use at your own risk.
We are living trouble time in Myanmar. With such uncertainty, it is hard to know how to deal with money.
The local banks have been closed for days. ATMs are completely unreliable. It is hard to see how the situation will get back to normal. Are the banks going to survive this crisis? Hard to tell.
For those who have kept money in international bank accounts, there is still a risk to see this money frozen due to incoming sanctions.
Bitcoin is a decentralized digital currency without a central bank. The currency can be sent from user to user or convert into Fiat money (government-issued currency like MMK) by using crypto exchange platforms.
Bitcoin is no longer reserved for hackers and terrorists and is starting to truly become a viable alternative for savings and investment purposes.
Large international companies such as Tesla, Paypal or Square are investing heavily in Bitcoin.
Mastercard has also recently announced that it will support selected cryptocurrencies in the near future:
The Bitcoin network is not only an infrastructure to store your money, you can also use it as a digital bank account with payment facilities such as credit card, international bank transfer, and so on. Companies like Crypto.com, Binance, or Nexo are already offering a credit card to enable you to pay your bills with your crypto wallet.
Where is my Bitcoin money stored?
If you decide to move your money into a digital currency such as Bitcoin, you do not become the owner of the Bitcoin tokens, you become the owner of private keys. These keys unlock access to your money and allow you to transfer/withdraw digital currencies. Your crypto money is not physically present anywhere, nor stored in any file or folder. This information is distributed and replicated across a network of computer machines, several thousand in the case of the Bitcoin network.
In that regard, access to your wealth relies on these private keys. Nobody can take this money from you without these keys. They can seize your computer or your smartphone, they won’t get access to your money. These keys are the only way to retrieve the amount that you store on the blockchain.
With crypto, no government or private entity on earth can ever freeze or confiscate your crypto money. On top of that, the identity of the private key owner (aka you) is not known to the network. It is therefore completely secured and anonymous.
Is Bitcoin risky for my savings?
Bitcoin is a highly volatile asset. Its price is fluctuating constantly. The good news is that it is under massive adoption which means that its price keeps growing. Plus its volatility is reducing over time. In January 2020, one bitcoin was equal to USD $7,200. In March 2021, the same bitcoin worth USD $55,000!
In a nutshell, storing your money in bitcoin is a high-risk / high-gain strategy.
For those who can’t stand the risk, there are other cryptocurrencies to consider. Stablecoins for instance, are crypto-assets that mirror the price of a FIAT currency (government-issued currency). USDT for instance mirrors USD. The token’s pin to the USD is achieved by maintaining a sum of dollars in reserves that is equal to the number of USDT in circulation. To summary, if you convert USD $1,000 in USDT, you will receive USDT $1,000 that will still worth USD $1,000 tomorrow, in one month or in one year.
The methodology to exchange MMK with a stablecoin like USDT or USDC is similar to the methodology to exchange MMK with Bitcoin, we will see how to achieve this later in this article.
In Myanmar, companies usually pay their employees in Myanmar Kyat by cash or bank transfer. So the big question is: how do I convert Myanmar Kyat into cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin to keep it safe?
Buy Bitcoin using a Prepaid Visa Card in Myanmar
The top banks in Myanmar all offer the possibility to acquire a prepaid VISA card. These cards can be used for online payment or for travel purposes. CB Bank, AYA Bank, or KBZ Bank are some of the banks in Myanmar that offer such services. The fee to obtain the card is cheap. CB Bank for instance charges 8,000 MMK.
To top-up these cards, you need first to exchange your MMK to USD at the exchange counter. Then you deposit the USD at the bank. The bank will top-up your prepaid card with the USD. When your credit card is top-up, you can use it to buy crypto-currency directly on a platform such as Binance. Buying online with a prepaid credit card is free of charge.
Binance is one of the most popular cryptocurrency exchanges. It was launched in 2017 and has kept growing since then. Its popularity comes from the wide range of cryptocurrencies that it supports, vast investment products available, and the low trading fees.
To buy crypto-currencies on Binance, you first need to register.
By using the referral link provided in this article, you will benefit from a discount on your trading fees.
Registering on Binance will require a straightforward KYC. Once you are registered on Binance, simply click on “Buy Crypto”, select the crypto that you wish to buy, and input your credit card credentials.
That’s it, your Binance account will be credited with your cryptocurrency. You can use Binance to exchange the crypto tokens into a different cryptocurrency as you please. Or you can create your own personal wallet and withdraw the funds from Binance to your own secured wallet.
If you would like to find a secured wallet to store your keys, check out this article:
Use a P2P network to buy crypto-currencies
A few months ago, Binance announced that it now supports MMK as a currency for P2P trading.
What that means is that you can now buy directly cryptocurrencies with your Myanmar Kyat through the Binance platform. To do this, you do not need a credit card, you simply need to find someone that is interested to buy MMK in exchange for cryptocurrency.
Binance P2P trading platform makes this job easier than ever. Just go on Binance, go to Trade, P2P trading then click on buy. Select the currency that you want to buy, for example, USDT. Select the amount and currency that you want to change.
You will now find all the USDT sellers that are interested to buy MMK with the payment method. All the vendors will accept by default local bank transfers, some vendors also accept mobile payments such as KBZPay or Wave Money.
Binance acts as an escrow during the transaction. It means that once you initiate the crypto purchase, the crypto money will be locked on the seller account until the order is completed so you can transfer the funds without worrying.
Note that there are a lot of scams that go with P2P trading so be very careful. This article is a very good reference to make sure that you use P2P trading safely.