Bank of Maldives (BML) has unblocked transactions through previously restricted foreign merchants, including selected money transfer platforms and digital wallets. 

Customers can now use BML’s Visa USD credit card or Mastercard prepaid USD travel card to send and receive funds seamlessly from these platforms, according to the bank. BML customers can also use their debit card with a USD account as the card’s primary account for transactions with these merchants, it added.

“We understand the importance of supporting freelancers and small merchants who rely on payments received from overseas for their livelihoods and well-being,” said BML CEO Karl Stumke. “We are delighted to enable this for our customers as another step towards enhancing our banking and payment experience.”

The move aligns with President Mohamed Muizzu’s pledge to address the challenges faced by freelancers and small merchants in the creative industries in receiving payments for work done for overseas clients. This is part of Muizzu’s broader policy of promoting an economy that fosters creative industries.

The decision to lift restrictions on previously blocked payment platforms follows a cabinet decision on 7 January to task BML with introducing e-wallet services within a week. Although the implementation did not occur within the stipulated week, the services are now available, fulfilling President Muizzu’s assurance that they would be operational before May.

Following the bank’s decision, Mohamed Saeed, the Minister of Economic Development and Trade, expressed his gratitude to BML. “It’s a crucial development for their success,” he said, referring to the ease with which freelancers and small businesses can now receive payments in US dollars from online international sales and digital platforms.

President Muizzu has also pledged to lift restrictions for local freelancers to make and receive payments through PayPal, Payoneer, Skrill, Stripe, and Neteller, further expanding the digital financial landscape in the Maldives.