Following a national currency swap deal that was recently implemented, Iran and Turkey are now pursuing the integration of bank cards in a move aimed at helping the massive flow of tourists traveling between the two nations.
This was announced during a meeting on Saturday between high-level representatives of Bank Melli Iran and Turkey’s Ziraat Bank, the official website of BMI reported.
“It has been decided that bank cards will be used between the two countries. Many Iranian and Turkish tourists travel between the two countries each year and using these cards can lead to the growth of tourism,” Mohammad Reza Hosseinzadeh, Bank Melli’s CEO, said.
Huseyin Aydin, CEO of Ziraat Bank who also heads Turkey’s association of state-owned banks, also put his support behind the scheme and said using integrated bank card systems can help the exchange of currencies and boost bilateral trade.”
According to a report published by the Hotel Association of Turkey, some 2.5 million Iranian tourists visited Turkey in 2017, making the country the top destination for Iranian holidaymakers. About 155,000 of the nearly 1.5 million foreigners who visited Turkey at the start of 2018 were Iranians.
The bank card integration scheme can prove immensely helpful, especially as Iran is still facing the repercussions of unifying its dual foreign exchange rates on April 10.
At present, foreign banknotes are scarce in Iran’s open market and travelers may legally get only up to €1,000 for foreign trips from authorized banks. Even that is uncertain as Central Bank of Iran Governor Valiollah Seif advised travelers to wait and postpone their trips until they can get their required hard currencies in the foreseeable future.
Turkey is not the only country being eyed for bank card integration. Iran’s similar scheme with Russia is undergoing trial and was supposed to be implemented by Dec. 10 after repeated promises, but it has been delayed again until further notice due to technical issues.
Iran is also negotiating bank card integration with Japan, Azerbaijan, Iraq, China and Oman.
During Saturday’s meeting, CEOs of Bank Melli and Ziraat Bank also discussed the currency swap deal that was formally agreed in October and designated their banks as agent banks. The first letter of credit using the national currencies of Iran and Turkey was opened on April 16 by BMI.
“Iranian and Turkish traders have welcomed the scheme,” Hosseinzadeh said.
Aydin announced that Turkey’s Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci will travel to Iran in the near future and said that his bank is ready to fully cooperate with BMI as it has already formed technical committees in this regard.