By Libya Herald reporter.
Tripoli, 3 August 2015:
Aman bank, a leading private Libyan bank jointly owned by Portugal’s BES bank, has today . . .[restrict]called on all its customers to provide their National ID number as a prerequisite for reactivating their blocked Visa and Mastercard debit cards.
The Central Bank of Libya (CBL), due to widespread corruption in foreign currency transactions and due to the haemorrhaging of Libya’s foreign currency reserves at a time of financial crises, had frozen the use of all locally issued debit cards.
Credit cards are prohibited by Libyan Islamic-Sharia-compliant banking laws. Local banks are allowed to charge a pre-determined ‘service charge’ for ‘services and administration’ costs of their debit cards.
The announcement by Aman bank is interesting in that it confirms unconfirmed rumours that the CBL is about to announce new regulations stipulating that debit cards may only be issued by local Libyan banks to Libyan citizens holding a valid National ID Number.
The CBL move comes in reaction to corruption at banks in issuing a huge number of debit cards in order to withdraw foreign currency abroad and resell it in the inflated black market rate back in Libya. The black market dollar exchange rate has skyrocketed from about US$ 1 to LD 1.30 to US$ 1 to LD 2.60.
This sharp rise in hard currency exchange rate has led to inflation and a shrinking of Libyans’ purchasing power. This has put the Tripoli-based authorities under political pressure which has led to the CBL and Audit Bureau into taking some counter measures.