Banque du Liban,the central bank of Lebanon) has directing all the banks to issue prepaid cards only to accountholders to prevent money laundering and the misuse of prepaid cards. With the central banks approval, international issuers are allowed to issue prepaid cards. The Lebanon Cash Consortium (LCC) partnered with the World Food Program (WFP) and launched the OneCard electronic payment card which can be used for ATM cash withdrawals and in-store payments at partner retailers. Bank Audi is the Lebanon's largest bank that offers a Novo branch and interactive teller machines (ITMs) catering to consumers financial needs. ITM offers live video assistance to consumers, can be used by consumers to manage bank accounts, deposit and withdraw cash, deposit and cash checks, transfer money and pay bills. A Novo advisory room is provided to the consumers to open a bank account and instantly obtain debit cards. The Novo branch is open 365 days a year to provide a convenient and interactive banking experience to consumers.
According to the research report “The Cards and Payments Industry in Lebanon: Emerging Trends and Opportunities to 2020”, Lebanese payments cards include debit, credit and charge cards and the industry has registered a positive growth in the yesteryears. The payment industry includes check payments and payment cards along with the E-commerce market. The factors affecting the cards and payments industry in Lebanon are increase in consumers’ awareness about electronic payments, the introduction of improved cards and adoption of advanced technologies such as PayWave, PayPass, EVM Technology, and contactless cards. Lebanon ranks seventh among the Middle East and North Africa countries with the frequent use of the payment cards. A rapid growth was observed in the prepaid cards market and the number of cards in circulation in Lebanon is expected to exceed the debit, credit and charge cards. The younger population in Lebanon are targeted with new payment cards offered by Byblos Bank and Blom Bank. Majority of the younger generation in Lebanon make online purchases and are benefitted with the redemption of rewards points offered on the cards.
In Lebanon, the remittance facility utilizes the prepaid cards. A global remittance company named IRemit was introduced in the country and issues the I-remit Visa Prepaid Cards. These cards ensure faster and safer remittance facilities from Lebanon to Philippines. IRemit cards are provided with online payment facilities for utility bills and online shopping. The emerging trend in the payment cards is the introduction of smart cards with contactless technology features. In Lebanon, smart cards with contactless technology were introduced in association with Visa. PayWave and PayPass contactless payment technology cards were launched by Bank Audi and Visa in association with MasterCard. Bank Audi in Lebanon has launched the Tap2pay NFC Mobile Payment services making the consumers phone to be used as a credit card with the contactless technology. These services were launched in partnership with MasterCard and mobile operators Alfa and Touch.
Various strategies are adopted by the Lebanese banks and other institutions to market debit, credit and charge cards. These innovative and technological developments in Lebanon financial sector will witness a drastic growth in the cards and payments industry over the coming years.
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