Myanmar’s first entirely crypto-based banking institution has announced a soft launch for July 22 — a move that could see the country’s shadow government given greater access to financial services and funding.
The Spring Development Bank is named after the Spring Revolution, the opposition movement led by Myanmar’s exiled National Unity Government (NUG) against the ruling State Administration Council (SAC) — a military junta that seized control of the country in February 2021.
The bank’s target demographic isn’t just the 55 million Burmese living in Myanmar, but also the two-million-strong “Burmese diaspora”, who live and work outside of Myanmar and frequently send money back to the country.
Constructed on Polygon, the bank’s main goal is to make both domestic and international payments faster and more efficient, as well as offer international access to a broad array of financial products.
A Spring Development Bank official who asked to remain anonymous for security reasons told Cointelegraph that crypto was the obvious solution to provide financial support to Burmese citizens as well as its exiled government.
“Spring Development Bank and the blockchain technology it’s powered by is the natural progression in terms of a fundraising strategy for the NUG.”
The new crypto bank was not launched directly by the NUG, but the official noted it has been launched with its full support and resources. Additionally, the bank is licensed and regulated by the NUG-controlled interim central bank of Myanmar.
The bank’s CEO, who goes by the name Calvin T for security reasons, told Cointelegraph that the launch of the new institution signaled the first step in returning financial freedom to Myanmar.
Tin Tun Naing, the governor of Myanmar’s interim central bank and acting minister for finance and industry, described the bank as a fundamentally “revolutionary” institution.
“We cannot just move funds into a banking system controlled by the military, so we have to provide this alternative financial system that’s based on trust and guaranteed by the government.”
Naing claimed the military-based financial system is “falling apart” and the Spring Development Bank would help secure financial assets for citizens.
The fees currently levied on sending money back to the country by traditional means can reportedly reach as high as 30%.
“Everything’s built on Polygon, for cost reasons but also because we felt that the Polygon ecosystem was likely to survive over the longer term,” the official explained.
The bank will issue a number of new fiat-pegged stablecoins, including the Myanmar kyat, Thai baht, Singapore dollar and the U.S. dollar. Users can plug these assets into the bank’s “currency swap” feature, built on UniSwap V3, which will allow for the exchange of stablecoins.
In Myanmar, residents who show support for the NUG — which could be something as simple as having the wrong app on their phone — are routinely “made an example of” through public displays of violence and imprisonment, the official said.
As such, the bank’s user interface has been designed as a “web-only” platform.
“The bank’s interface will look and feel like an application, but we encourage everyone to access it using their incognito window so it doesn’t store any browser history,” the official explained.
The NUG was formally recognized as the official government of Myanmar by numerous members of the United Nations and the European Parliament in October 2021. The United States, however, has yet to officially recognize the exiled government.