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In Session: New Dimensions of Migration in Southeast Asia
4: Sending Money Back Home: Banking Digitalization, Myanmar Migrant Workers, and Thailand-myanmar Border Trade
Wednesday, March 24, 2021
3:00pm – 4:30pm EDT
Chulalongkorn University, Thailand
The ministry of labor of Thailand reports that Thailand has accepted totally 3.1 million legal migrant workers from her neighboring countries, two-thirds of these migrant workers came from Myanmar. For decades, this huge number of migrant workers from Myanmar indirectly benefits Thailand-Myanmar border trade especially the illicit trade.
Since the banking services in rural areas of Myanmar where the migrant workers came from are not yet developed, the workers usually send money back home through some other informal channels, these channels are part of the circle that the illicit border traders use for paying their Thai suppliers when they purchase goods. Thus the method which Myanmar migrant workers use to remit their money plays an important role in Thai-Myanmar border trade. However, the development of technologies has made things dramatically change. The digitalization of banking systems has offered migrant workers alternative choices of sending money back.
This research studies how the digital migration of banking sector affects the different groups involved with Myanmar migrants: the way of living, their relative at home, and their Thai employers. The research particularly focuses on the new way Myanmar migrant workers send their money back home and how this change can probably create a chain-reaction to the Thailand-Myanmar border trade.
The paper studies how the recent banking digitalization in both countries is breaking through the obstacles of wealth mobilization in the past.