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Plastic banking cards yet to gain full momentum

In reducing the refinancing rate, the bank hopes to preserve the attractiveness of savings deposits, while avoiding excessive demand for loans. According to Sergey Dubkov, the Deputy Chairman of the National Bank’s Board of Directors, the public should be offered new, non-banking instruments of personal savings.
By Roman Averyanov

“If inflation in 2012 stands at 19-22 percent, the refinancing rate can be reduced to 20-23 percent per annum,” explains Mr. Dubkov. He notes that a sharper reduction in interest rates could lead to the same problems as needed to be resolved last year.
Mr. Dubkov admits that, in recent times, the scale of public lending has reduced, due to the re-structuring of the system of privileged housing loans and the cost of commercial loans. However, enterprises are still taking out loans in significant volumes, showing that current interest rates are affordable.

On May 16th, the refinancing rate was reduced by a small amount, from 36 to 34 percent per annum, taking into account the interests of depositors, whose savings’ profitability directly depends on the refinancing rate.

Mr. Dubkov believes that, in future, new instruments of savings should be developed in Belarus, following the example of other countries. In particular, those wishing to save money could buy shares in consumer co-operatives. This would give residents more options. Meanwhile, the National Bank — jointly with the Trade Ministry — is working on expanding the use of plastic banking cards in the shops. In Belarus, the number of such cards in circulation had reached 10m by the beginning of this year but many card holders still only use them to take out cash from ATMs.

“Until trade and service outlets take the initiative in accepting cards, movement in this direction will be limited,” notes Mr. Dubkov. “There’s competition on the market, as well as necessary infrastructure and telecommunications. The issue is only to fill relations with real economic content.”
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