Things are changing in Sudan as its banks partner with Visa to introduce payments systems after decades of being shunned by legitimate financial institutions (FIs) over talks that it housed terrorists and its leader performed illicit global activities, according to Reuters.
The move could potentially provide more access to banking systems for the whole continent and expand digital payments systems around the globe.
The Bank of Khartoum, Qatar National Bank and United Capital Bank (Bank Almal) have all gotten approval to start using the systems, and they’ll get started in about three weeks, according to the head of electronic banking services (EBS) at Sudan’s central bank, Omar Amrabi.
Another six banks are waiting for approval. Transactions in and out of Sudan have been heavily restricted for some time, and the country has been listed by the U.S. as a sponsor for terrorism since 1993.
In 2013 and 2014, HSBC Holdings and BNP Paribas agreed to pay more than $10 billion to settle cases over sanctions with countries like Sudan.
The sanctions were lifted in 2017, and the U.S. said it was going to remove Sudan from the list after its leader, Omar al-Bashir, was overthrown last year.
The listing makes it hard for Sudan to attract investors and businesses to the country, and it’s blocked from receiving money from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank until the country is eventually removed from the list.
Sudan has also had to deal with numerous cash shortages, and foreign transfers are watched closely.
“We are working closely with select financial institutions in Sudan to progress the introduction of Visa payment solutions in the country,” Visa said in a statement. “Visa is pleased to be building new partnerships that will bring the benefit of Visa’s world-class payment technology to help support financial inclusion and economic growth in Sudan.”