Mon. AM TNT News Articles 9-5-22



The Lebanese are replacing banks with exchange offices

The money transfer companies “exchange” entered the Lebanese market with all their weight, after banks and their strict restrictions exhausted the Lebanese.

Its work is no longer limited to transfers from abroad, but rather provides services ranging from “Visa” cards, a list of wedding gifts, and even the payment of salaries.

In front of OMT, a subsidiary of the Western Union International Remittance Company, Elias Skaf (50 years old) is waiting for his turn to receive a sum of money in US dollars sent to him by his family members abroad, which has become his main source of livelihood.

He says that the money transfer companies “make our affairs easy, and things are fast. In the bank, you die a hundred times before you get a transfer that reaches your account.”

In the wake of the economic collapse that has continued since the fall of 2019, Lebanese banks have imposed, since the first weeks, strict restrictions on dollar withdrawals and prevented transfers abroad. This made depositors unable to dispose of their money, especially in dollars, while deposits in pounds lost their value with the collapse of the local currency rate on the black market.

The waiting halls of banks witnessed frequent arguments between angry citizens wanting to get their deposits and employees abiding by the instructions of their administrations, the most recent of which was in August when a young man broke into a bank branch and took hostages inside, only to get a small part of his money held for three years.

As a result of the gradual distrust of the banking sector, which witnessed the layoffs of thousands of employees, the closure of dozens of branches and the cancellation of many services, money transfer offices flourished.

Instead of turning to his usual bank to open an account for the newlyweds’ gift list, Eli chose Whish Money to save his friends the hassle of visiting the bank.

“Instead of waiting for hours, they saved time and fees, unlike the bank,” he says, “and even one of them sent me a sum of money directly through the application without having to go to the bank.”

Eli chose the company simply because it is the same company he receives his salary from.

And a sportswear store chose to stop paying salaries through banks to save effort, time and fees for its employees, preferring to resort to “Wish Money”, which does not impose fees on withdrawals in Lebanese pounds.

“At the beginning of the crisis, we were forced to pay salaries in cash, which was not consuming a lot of time,” says Rachel Bou Nader, the store’s human resources officer. “Now, employees can withdraw their pensions easily, in installments if they want, and without fees.” .

In addition to restrictions on financial operations, Lebanese banks have also raised the value of their fees for services, including those imposed on remittances coming from abroad, as these fees “have become their only source of income,” according to Sami Nader, director of the Mashreq Center for Strategic Affairs.

During the first six months of 2022, about 250,000 Lebanese received remittances from abroad through OMT, which controls 80% of the remittance market outside the banking sector.

A member of the company’s administrative board, Naji Abu Zeid, explains that remittances have increased by 80%, compared to the same period in 2021, and adds, “There are 1,200 offices affiliated with us in Lebanon.”

And the matter is not only limited to remittances, as the company is now providing other services, including “Visa” cards for withdrawals and online payment, money exchange service, and wedding gift lists.

Subscribers to the websites of television stations can pay the subscription fee via “OMT” instead of using bank cards. It is also possible to pay for airline tickets.

With the expansion of the remittance market, in the year 2020, Ria opened its offices in Lebanon.

“The trends have changed after the crisis, and the majority of transfers are made through money transfer companies,” said a company official in Lebanon, who preferred to remain anonymous.

The prosperity of these companies is mainly due, according to Sami Nader, to the money that Lebanese expatriates send to their families in Lebanon. “A young Lebanese expatriate today does not hesitate to send even if it is only $100 to his family, it is enough to make a difference” in their daily lives, he says.

Expatriate remittances amounted to $6.6 billion in 2021, according to World Bank statistics, with Lebanon making it among the first three countries in the Middle East that depend on remittances from its citizens abroad. These remittances amounted to 53.8% of the GDP.

While awaiting receipt of a transfer from abroad from the office of “OMT” in Beirut, Alaa Sheikhani (45 years old) says, “We cannot withdraw a single pound from our accounts in the bank.”

He wonders with emotion, as he has money stuck in a bank since the beginning of the crisis, “How can we trust it again to receive our money through it?”  link

Meeting of political forces under the auspices of Kadhimi ends with agreement on 6 points – urgent

In continuation of the National Dialogue initiative, the presidencies met with the leaders of the Iraqi national political forces at the invitation of the Prime Minister Mr. Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, on Monday (5 September 2022) to discuss political developments, in the presence of the representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations in Iraq.  

The meeting concluded with agreement on the following:  

1- The meeting affirmed that the developments of the political situation and the resulting differences hold everyone the national responsibility in maintaining stability, protecting the country from crises, supporting efforts to calm down, preventing escalation and violence, and adopting the national dialogue to reach solutions, stressing the need to continue the sessions of the national dialogue.  

2- The meeting decided to form a technical team from various political forces to mature common visions and ideas on the road map for the national solution, and to bring the views closer in order to reach early elections and achieve their requirements by reviewing the electoral law and reviewing the Commission.  

3- The meeting stressed the activation of institutions and constitutional entitlements.  

4- The meeting renewed the invitation of the brothers in the Sadrist Movement to participate in technical and political meetings, discuss all controversial issues, and reach solutions to them.  

5- The meeting stressed the need to purify the atmosphere between the national forces, including the prevention of all forms of escalation, the rejection of speeches that are issued or leaked and cause damage to historical fraternal relations, and their treatment through available legal means, in a manner that preserves the dignity, feelings and entitlements of the Iraqi people and respect for religious, political and social considerations.  

6- The meeting stressed the need to achieve reform in the structure of the Iraqi state, and to value the demands to address any imbalance in the political or administrative frameworks through the necessary legislation, effective government programs, the cooperation of all political forces, and with the support of our dear people, including discussing the foundations of constitutional amendments, and adhering to constitutional options at all stages of dialogue and resolution.  

Media Office of the Prime Minister

Central banks participate in the manufacture of modern financial technologies

Today, Monday, the Arab Monetary Fund announced the launch of a training course directed to staff working in central banks, under the title (Regulatory Frameworks and Legislations for the Industry of Modern Financial Technologies).

A statement by the Fund stated that “the course, which will continue until the eighth of this month, is also directed to those concerned with issues of modern financial technologies and the staff working in the capital market authorities and stock exchanges and ministries of finance who are specialized in issues of modern financial technologies.”

He added, “It aims to deepen the participants’ understanding of the regulatory framework for the modern financial technology industry, as well as discussing many axes, the most important of which is building an incubating environment and effective national strategies for modern financial technologies and blockchain technologies.”

The course reviews some of the different aspects of regulating modern financial technology activities, such as regulating open financing activities, alternative financing, encrypted financial assets and digital contracts, digital financial services consumer protection frameworks, cyber security, data protection frameworks and customer information privacy, and electronic know-your-customer rules to combat laundering. Funds and financing of the cuticle.

It will also shed light on digital regulatory and supervisory solutions to support the regulatory and supervisory authorities in regulating this industry.  link

Source: Dinar Recaps


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