Egypt to Ban the Use of Debit Cards Abroad Days Before Eid
Reuters reported on Wednesday that “Egypt has ordered banks to prevent customers from using debit cards based on their Egyptian pound accounts when they go abroad.” The news came from central bank officials who received the command from the government in order to deal with the country’s foreign currency deficit.
The news comes days ahead of Eid, shaking plans for many Egyptians traveling for the holiday as well as Egyptians living abroad. For those traveling in the next few days outside of Egypt, will plans have to be rescheduled or will we be seeing Egyptians withdrawing large sums of money? For Egyptians living abroad, will local bank accounts have to be closed and foreign accounts opened? If Egyptians abroad begin opening foreign accounts, can we expect another major blow to hit Egyptian banks with accounts being closed?
Credit cards won’t be affected by the order, but the usage of debit cards abroad will be halted. Since the 2011 revolution, banks have been losing dollars to the competitive black market where importers are turning to in order to get a better deal. The dollar has been valued at 8.78 EGP while the black market rate is around 11 EGP. Heads of banks are requesting time to enforce the restriction of debit card use abroad.
No one is sure how long this hold will be intact or if it is even confirmed since banks are closed for a national holiday. We can only expect a drastic outrage from Egyptians abroad and Egyptian travelers who will be anything but thrilled trying to figure out how to pay for, well, things.
WE SAID THIS: Stay tuned for updates.