Lebanese turn to money transfer companies amid banking crisis

Amid the banking crisis in Lebanon, people are being forced to wait hours to withdraw money from the bank, forcing many to turn to money transfer companies as trust in lenders has disappeared.

Anyone who relies on traditional banks to receive their money will die 100 times before they collect it.

The banking industry is now widely despised and shunned after banks barred depositors from accessing their savings, closed hundreds of branches and cut thousands of jobs.

Last month, a gunman entered the Federal Bank of Lebanon in Hamra and took a number of employees and customers hostage to demand his $200,000 in frozen savings to pay his hospital bills. sick father.

Increasingly, as Lebanon’s deep crisis shows no signs of easing, money transfer agencies are filling the void, also offering exchange offices and credit cards, and even setting up wedding gift registries.

People now receive money through Western Union’s Lebanese agent, OMT, which operates more than 1,200 branches across the country and handles 80% of money transfers outside the Lebanese banking sector.

“We are creating services similar to those that banks provide at the request of our customers,” said UNWTO spokesman Naji Abou Zeid.

Around 250,000 residents of Lebanon received remittances in the first half of 2022, according to UNWTO, up 8% from the same period last year.

The World Bank reported that Lebanon received $6.6 billion in remittances in 2021, one of the highest levels in the Middle East and North Africa.

Lebanon has been hit by its worst economic crisis since the financial sector collapsed in 2019. The local currency has lost more than 90% of its value on the black market, as poverty and unemployment soar .

Related: The Lebanese lira, explained

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