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Immigrants and bank cards in Iran

Banking and monetary services are one of the most important services that all immigrants in a country need. Immigrants living in Iran, like Iranian citizens, need a bank account and a bank card for the smallest daily transactions. Since a high percentage of such immigrants have lived in Iran for many years and started a business in Iran, they need more services in the various banking systems. Reluctant immigrants who enter Iran to work in Iran and send money to their families in Afghanistan also need a banking system for their transfers; But due to the deprivation of these services, they turn to Afghan money changers, whose work Iran has no authority over.

Unfortunately, the Iranian banking system has been very weak in providing banking services to immigrants (both

Issues and problems of immigrants in the face of the Iranian banking system

The main problem of immigrants living in Iran who also have legal residence documents in Iran is their deprivation of bank cards and electronic banking services. This deprivation has caused many problems among immigrants during the Corona period, when cash transactions in the country were minimized for health reasons.

It was from February 2017 that the pass cards of the Mohajeran Bank in Iran were gradually blocked. Many immigrants sent messages to the Diyaran Association that their bank cards had been blocked. This was a restriction for all immigrants. So much so that even Mohammad Kazem Kazemi, a prominent Afghan poet, announced that his bank card had been blocked. This trend continued the following year. Surveys showed that in the months leading up to the end of the year, the bank cards of a large number of immigrants holding a family card or passport were unusable.

With the participation of immigrant audiences, a series of problems of immigrants in receiving banking and monetary services was counted. According to the results of this call, the challenges that immigrants face in the face of the Iranian banking system are:

1. Ugly and insulting treatment of Afghan citizens by Iranian bankers

2. Sudden and unannounced blocking of Afghan immigrant accounts

3. Contradictory and tasteful procedures and multiplicity in law enforcement

4. Do not open a current account for immigrants

5. Do not give the card reader

6. Do not activate the bank account

7. Do not activate bank text messages

8. Do not activate Internet Banking

9. Do not give the bank pass and do not renew it

10. Restrictions on withdrawals for immigrants even though the immigrant owns the money!

۱۱. Do not give checks

۱۲. Do not put the check in the bank account

13. Forcing immigrants to open an account in the name of an Iranian to receive routine banking services

۱۴. Bank operators’ ignorance of the identity documents of legal immigrants in Iran and their work experience

۱۵. Forcing migrants to carry large amounts of cash and increasing their risk of theft and extortion

۱۶. Transaction ceiling limit of 2.5 million Tomans for each purchase of POS machines.

 

Research has shown that the root of most of these problems is the deprivation of immigrants of bank cards and electronic banking services. While providing e-banking services even to immigrants without identification (hesitant immigrants) has the following advantages:

1. Security and intelligence aristocracy on the financial exchanges of all immigrants present in Iran and the possibility of monitoring and tracking

2. Possibility of regulating the financial and economic flows of immigrants, especially hesitant immigrants

3. Possibility of gradual identification of all immigrants and foreign nationals present in Iran

4. Using the financial flows of this large population in the Iranian banking system

5. Use of remittances sent by immigrants in the banking system

6. Providing the possibility of improving exports for Iran

7. Facilitate the life of Muslim foreigners in Iran and get closer to the goals of a single nation

8. Reduce crime against immigrants

What is the main reason for the deprivation of immigrants in Iran from receiving bank cards and electronic banking services? The question that we will deal with in the following.

Take a look at the central bank’s rules regarding the provision of financial and banking services to foreign nationals

Considering the progress of Iran’s banking system in the last two decades, various sections and approvals related to account opening and withdrawal services for Afghan immigrants have been compiled by the Central Bank during the past years. They have not met the needs of the immigrant community in Iran, but have also been to restrict and circumvent these immigrants. One of the most important approvals is the communication of the three anti-money laundering instructions of the Central Bank approved in 1390 to all banks and credit institutions. These instructions include:

1. “Instructions on how to identify foreign customers of credit institutions”

2. “Instructions on how to exercise special care and supervision when providing basic services to foreign political persons in credit institutions”

3. “Executive Instructions to Combat Money Laundering in Exchange Offices”

Guidelines on how to identify foreign clients of credit institutions is considered one of the most restrictive guidelines of the Central Bank in relation to immigrants in Iran.

Note 4 to Article 4 of this Instruction states:

“It is prohibited to provide any electronic card as well as to license any electronic services to the above persons [holders of asylum booklet and special card for foreign nationals and security card].”

The mentioned note was not implemented until 2017. However, since February 2017, all immigrants with Amayesh cards were gradually deprived of having a bank card. The text of the directive did not mention a ban on providing e-banking services to immigrants with passports. But because bank employees did not notice the difference between the various residence permits of Afghan immigrants, the bank cards of immigrants with passports and visas were gradually blocked.

The only exception that happened was in January 2017. At this time, the Central Bank, in a letter to the banks regarding the provision of banking services to foreign persons under the letter of the Deputy Minister of Interior, allowed the opening of various bank accounts and the provision of facilities to holders of special residence permits. [1] Shrines and holders of special residence permits will suffer less damage from central bank approvals. However, the treatment of all Afghan immigrants by bankers in the same way caused them many problems.

On October 12, 2009, the bylaws of the Anti-Money Laundering Law were approved by the Cabinet. Article 73 of this regulation is about providing banking services to foreign nationals and states:

Article 73- The eligible persons are allowed to provide services only to foreign persons with a special number of foreign nationals. How to provide services to foreigners is in accordance with the risk (risk) of these persons. The original is determined and announced after approval by the council.

Note 1- The involved persons are obliged to identify foreign persons on the basis of identification documents determined by the working group subject to Note 6 of Article 21 of the By-Laws and after inquiring from the system subject to the said Article.

Note 2: Legal entities and agencies of foreign commercial companies, except for the agencies of international organizations, embassies and similar legal entities, are allowed to receive services only after registering the agency and obtaining the national identity subject to Article 20.

Note 3- Granting a special number to the representative of international organizations, embassies and other similar legal entities by the Ministry of Intelligence is allowed after the approval of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

It seemed that with the approval of this regulation in the cabinet and the provisions of Article 73 of it, the problem of not providing electronic banking services, especially bank cards to immigrants, would be solved within a maximum of three months. This article makes the provision of banking services to foreigners conditional on having a special number of foreign nationals and determining the risk of these persons. The implementing rules of this article must be written three months after approval by the Ministry of Intelligence and in cooperation with the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Central Bank of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Despite the many follow-ups that have been made in the past year and a half to determine the executive criteria and write the instructions, these instructions have never been written and communicated to the banks.

And since the holders of Amayesh cards, family plan passports as well as e-passports with valid residence have a special code for foreign nationals, it seems that the approval of this regulation will solve the problem of bank cards for all legal immigrants in Iran. But that never happened.

The Ministry of Intelligence, which in accordance with this regulation was responsible for drafting executive instructions in cooperation with the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Central Bank of the Islamic Republic of Iran, did not perform its duties in the past year and a half.

The deprivation of legal immigrants in Iran of having a bank card during the Corona caused many problems for both immigrants and Iranian society. While in the past year Iran has moved more than ever to remove cash from all transactions, immigrants are forced to use cash for all of their lives. The greater prevalence of coronation was one of the consequences of this deprivation of immigrants in Iran.

The complexity of this deprivation caused that in the meeting dated 11/12/2013 of the Supreme Council for Combating and Preventing Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing, with the aim of facilitating the provision of banking services to foreign individuals until the approval and promulgation of executive regulations subject to Article 73 The executive by-law of Article 14 of the Anti-Money Laundering Law approved by the meeting of the Cabinet on 07/21/2009 and in accordance with the conditions of the council, the Central Bank should formulate and announce the rules for issuing bank cards to foreign nationals.

According to the instructions issued to the Central Bank by this council on March 31, 2017, credit institutions can grant a maximum of one Rial payment card with a daily purchase limit of one hundred and fifty million Rials with a set expiration date to foreign individuals over 18 years of age. To. The expiration date set for each bank card is equal to the expiration date of the legal immigrant’s residence permit.

Thus, all legal immigrants present in Iran have been temporarily entitled to a bank card. But presenting this card faces many ups and downs.

Immigration cards issued to immigrants are sometimes renewed in the form of circulars. The listed residence permit may have expired, but the card has been extended due to the Ministry of the Interior section. Because the Ministry of Interior’s subscriptions are not integrated with the Central Bank’s subscriptions, many banks refuse to issue bank cards on the pretext that their residency has expired.

Due to the inflationary conditions of the country, the daily withdrawal limit of 15 million Tomans will make it difficult for many immigrants to do daily business and buy basic goods.

Bank card for immigrants is an issue that has affected the daily life of many immigrants in Iran and forced them to break the law and use Iranian bank cards. An action that has intensified the pursuit and identification of individuals in transactions. The interim action of the Supreme Council for Combating and Preventing Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing is commendable. But this temporary solution should not prevent a fundamental solution to this problem for immigrants living in Iran.

The following table summarizes the Central Bank’s directives and instructions on providing financial and banking services to foreigners present in Iran in the last 20 years:

row Date of notification Subject of directives Instructions
۱ 7 Azar 1380 Facilitate payments of foreign nationals holding a refugee card, green card and valid blue card
۲ 10 Tir 1381 Unrestricted granting of credit facilities to immigrants present in Iran
۳ 16 Azar 1387 Unrestricted granting of credit facilities to immigrants present in Iran
۴ Bahman 1390 Instructions on how to identify foreign clients of credit institutions
۵ 13 Khordar 1392 Instructions on how to identify foreign clients of credit institutions
۶ 14 Dey 1395 Instructions for opening a Rial deposit account for foreigners
۷ Shahrivar 1396 Amend the instructions for opening a Rial deposit account for foreigners
۸ Bahman 1396 Circular on the Necessity of Implementing Article 4 of the Instruction on How to Identify Foreign Clients of Credit Institutions
۹ Day 1397 Circular on the need to provide banking services, including opening accounts and facilities to citizens with special residence documents
۱۰ 21 Mehr 1398 Approval of the bylaws of the Anti-Money Laundering Law in the Cabinet
۱۱ 10 Esfand 1399 Approval of the bylaws of the Anti-Money Laundering Law in the Cabinet

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