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The legal firewall blocking access for Ukrainians to international banking and online payment systems is set to come tumbling down as the National Bank of Ukraine removed a number of barriers in e-commerce.
E-payment systems like PayPal can now fully operate in Ukraine. Previously, Ukrainians could purchase goods abroad using PayPal, but it was illegal for them to receive payments on their accounts.
Only three global payment systems – MasterCard, Visa and American Express – and six global money transfer systems – MoneyGram, Western Union, MEEST, RIA, Caspian Money
Transfer and Khazri – are currently on the NBU’s list of registered money transfer systems that have permission to make both inbound and outbound transfers. The relaxing of the rules should let more register.
E-payment systems no longer are required to be banking institutions, said Natalie Nayman from the Jurimex law firm.
Because of harsh regulations, PayPal, a leading American e-payment system, failed for four years to enter the Ukrainian market, Nayman said.
The NBU’s step indicates that Ukraine is ready to let Internet giants and make it easier to conduct business, Dmytro Gadomsky, a partner at the law firm Juscutum, told the Kyiv Post.
It still won’t be easy to develop e-money and electronic payments in a country like Ukraine, experts said.
Apart from changing rules and regulations, the country’s laws also have to change. That includes extending the right to issue e-money to financial companies and granting permission for e-money to be used to pay not only for goods, but also for services.
“The need to sign paper contracts and acceptance certificates, plus the large amount of cybercrime, has made Ukraine very unfriendly to online business,” Juscutum’s Gadomsky said. “And that’s why Apple, Facebook, PayPal, Google were always very cautious about extending their paid services to Ukraine.”
Foreign bank accounts
Ukrainians no longer need the central bank’s permission to open a bank account in a foreign country. For such accounts to be legitimized, a post factum license is still required from the NBU, but individuals are to have a two-year period after returning from abroad to obtain one.
Central bank governor Valeriya Gontareva actually promised all the changes last year, but then postponed them as the value of the hryvnia tumbled, citing concerns that they would lead to more Ukrainians squirreling their money away outside the cash-strapped country.
The changes create “civilized conditions for Ukrainians working abroad,” NBU Deputy Head Oleh Chury said, referring to the two-year bank account legalizing deadline.
Chury said he hoped that the new measure would encourage “talented and world class Ukrainian professionals who want to contribute to the country’s economic recovery” to repatriate.
A Gfk Ukraine survey conducted in February-March ordered by the International Organization for Migration suggests that at least 500,000 Ukrainians work abroad.
But Juscutum’s Gadomsky still said not much will change until the archaic obligation to get a NBU license is completely cancelled. “If I, as an individual, a resident of Ukraine, want to open a bank account in Europe, I’ll just do it – and neither the central bank nor the State Security Service will ever know about it. So the NBU has only cancelled a small part of these senseless restrictions.”
To attract more cash into the banking sector and free up the circulation of cash in the economy, the NBU plans to further limit the use of cash as a means of payment, while promoting the development of the cashless payment segment. For that, the central bank will cut the present cap on cash payments from Hr 150,000 to just Hr 50,000 (about $2,270). Such limits in place in EU countries range from €1,500 in Greece to €14,000 in the Czech Republic.
The IT industry welcomed the NBU’s moves, but said that the current changes would mostly affect only freelancers rather than incorporated businesses, as the latter receives money from foreign customers and branches abroad via regular bank transfers.
Jesper Lindholt, a Kyiv-based IT entrepreneur and founder of software developer Livatek, told the Kyiv Post that easier access to receiving payment for work performed at a distance via portals like Upwork.com would give individual Ukrainians the chance to contract work not only from abroad but also from within Ukraine.
“Now not all professionals will have to move to cities to make a living. This could benefit social-geographic diversity within Ukraine and stall the depopulation of the countryside,” Lindholt said.
За матеріалами Kyiv Post