XM does not provide services to residents of the United States of America.

Foreign credit card transactions add scarce dollars to Venezuela circulation

<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml"><head><title>Foreign credit card transactions add scarce dollars to Venezuela circulation</title></head><body>

By Mayela Armas

CARACAS, June 13 (Reuters) -Transactions paid with foreign credit cards are helping circulate more foreign currency in Venezuela, where the government has locked in an exchange rate as part of efforts to control double-digit inflation, four public sector and finance sources said.

The transactions have been growing steadily since the government of President Nicolas Maduro, who is running for reelection in July, loosened currency controls five years ago, allowing an expanded use of U.S. dollars alongside the local bolivar currency.

When Venezuelans with bank accounts abroad use foreign cards, their bank outside Venezuela sends the funds to its local intermediary bank in dollars.

The local bank can then sell the dollars, adding to the limited supply of foreign currency and helping the government to keep the exchange rate at 36.4 bolivars to the dollar and control inflation, which was 59.2% in the 12 months to May.

Maduro's government is seeking to raise its tax take so it will have funds to direct toward public workers, sources told Reuters, as it seeks to win their support at the polls.

"This foreign currency helps support the exchange market," said a public sector source who asked not to be named.

About 11% of transactions at supermarkets, pharmacies and other businesses are made with international cards, up from 8%last year, local analyst Ecoanalitica said in March.

Some $60 million per month from transactions on foreign credit and debit cards is sold by local banks, according to finance industry estimates.

Buyers are often retail or industrial businesses in need of foreign currency to pay for imports.

Other dollars come from the central bank and from export earnings from Chevron CVX.N, which operates in the country with a special license from Washington. Both those sources contribute about $200 million each per month, according to calculations from local analysts firm Sintesis Financiera.

Although the dollars circulating via foreign card transactions was less than from other sources, banking sources said the funds help ease pressure on the market.

The central bank did not respond to a request for comment, nor did the finance ministry.

In 2023, foreign exchange from international cards reached $900 million, according to banking sources.

U.S. sanctions have halted some international transfers, as the central bank and some local banks were left without partner banks that would allow them to move money in and out of Venezuela. Other banks still have partners abroad.

U.S. sanctions are largely focused on members of Maduro's government and the oil industry and do not restrict private Venezuelan businesses from operating abroad.

Foreign cards "offer a bit of oxygen because many people can't access bolivars," said economist Jesus Palacios, referring to credit restrictions on bolivar-denominated credit cards.

Reporting by Mayela Armas
Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Bill Berkrot


Disclaimer: The XM Group entities provide execution-only service and access to our Online Trading Facility, permitting a person to view and/or use the content available on or via the website, is not intended to change or expand on this, nor does it change or expand on this. Such access and use are always subject to: (i) Terms and Conditions; (ii) Risk Warnings; and (iii) Full Disclaimer. Such content is therefore provided as no more than general information. Particularly, please be aware that the contents of our Online Trading Facility are neither a solicitation, nor an offer to enter any transactions on the financial markets. Trading on any financial market involves a significant level of risk to your capital.

All material published on our Online Trading Facility is intended for educational/informational purposes only, and does not contain – nor should it be considered as containing – financial, investment tax or trading advice and recommendations; or a record of our trading prices; or an offer of, or solicitation for, a transaction in any financial instruments; or unsolicited financial promotions to you.

Any third-party content, as well as content prepared by XM, such as: opinions, news, research, analyses, prices and other information or links to third-party sites contained on this website are provided on an “as-is” basis, as general market commentary, and do not constitute investment advice. To the extent that any content is construed as investment research, you must note and accept that the content was not intended to and has not been prepared in accordance with legal requirements designed to promote the independence of investment research and as such, it would be considered as marketing communication under the relevant laws and regulations. Please ensure that you have read and understood our Notification on Non-Independent Investment. Research and Risk Warning concerning the foregoing information, which can be accessed here.

Risk Warning: Your capital is at risk. Leveraged products may not be suitable for everyone. Please consider our Risk Disclosure.