The Central Bank of Myanmar (CBM) has awarded service licenses to three more foreign banks this month as the second batch of its grant of such licenses, bringing the total to 13.

The three foreign banks, namely Shinhan Bank from South Korea, E SUN Commercial Bank from China’s Taiwan and the State Bank of India, are three out of the four awarded preliminary approval of operating licenses in March this year.

The other one, which is the Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV), had already been awarded service license at the end of June and commenced operations in July.

According to the announcement of CBM, Shinhan Bank, the first bank licensed in this month, is to start operation in this month while the latter two on Oct. 3.

There are nine foreign banks which have already opened branches in Myanmar.

Those nine foreign banks are three from Japan, two from Singapore, and one each from China, Malaysia, Thailand and Australia-New Zealand.

Myanmar’s banking and financial sector lags far behind other ASEAN countries. After the Central Bank of Myanmar became independent in 2012, the most visible reform by the central bank is awarding the licenses to foreign banks for opening branches in the country.

Granting licenses to foreign banks is intended to attract more foreign investments to the country, said an official of CBM earlier.

According to the CBM’s regulations, foreign banks are only permitted to provide corporate banking services to foreign firms and have a maximum of one branch at present. They are set to have a minimum paid-up capital of 75 million U.S. dollars.

Local banks are expecting to collaborate with foreign banks in project financing and lending syndicated loans for expanding the country’s banking industry as the local ones are weak in capital assets, according to local bankers.

Meanwhile, such local giant banks are stepping up to explore the international market.

There are also 25 local private banks and four state-owned banks in the country.