Uzbekistan: Profanation of Plastic Card Idea
Uzbekistan, Tashkent, 26 May / corr. Trend E. Hojayev/ The bank technology and equipment, quite unusual for the Exhibition Complex of the Academy of Arts of Uzbekistan, have been exhibited in this temple of art in Tashkent within the exhibition of BankExpo 2008. The exhibition organized for the first time was a big pomp. The organizers of the exhibition, Central Bank of Uzbekistan and Association of Banks did their best to enable it to have a good press.
The exhibition aimed at making visitors and participants familiar with the state-of-art systems of the electronic banking, money transfer systems, up-to-date equipment, information technology, software and others. The exhibits, booklets and brochure circulated among the visitors aimed at persuading them of the success of the bank reforms and to inform them that the business banks had introduced over 200 kinds of attractive deposits on market rates and also that the plastic card system is rapidly developing.
All of these are probably true. However, as to the plastic cards, it is difficult to get money through these cards. Whenever you go to get your money, morning or evening, cash machines are usually empty. In due time, the Cabinet of Ministers has passed a regulation on Measures on Further Development of Accounting Systems on Basis of Plastic Cards. A unified all-republican processing centre, under the Association of Bank of Uzbekistan, is being established in line with this regulation.
At present, there are 29 banks operating in Azerbaijan and most of them have already introduced plastic card system. One of the first banks to introduce it was ASAKA. According to its responsible employee, who preferred his name to be kept anonymous, all employees in the bank were made to use the plastic cards. The bank wanted to demonstrate that the number of its clients striving for joining banking technological revolution is growing. And the most favourable people for that were employees. Those refusing from plastic cards were threatened to be fired.
It must be a progressive process. It is not by chance that over 200 countries use plastic cards for payment. It is plastic cards that are the key element of electronic bank system and other systems. They have taken advance positions in organization of money turnover of industrial development in the Western countries, gradually ousting cheques and cheque-books.
But a fault happened in case of Uzbekistan. And the main reason for that is that ATMs are often empty and plastic card holders cannot withdraw money from their account. Qualified people say that the cause for that is that the Central Bank obliges commercial banks to implement transactions with clients at their first request in written form and flatly prohibits filling ATMs with money by phone call only.
It is still taking places in spite of the fact that the President in 2005 signed 'Decree on Guarantees of Uninterrupted Provision of Cash Payments from Deposit Accounts in Banks'. "The facts are quite absolutely unacceptable, commercial banks and their branches, attract population and entrepreneurs to deposit money, as well as profit from the deposits and investors with them, but at the same time do not fulfil their direct obligations, and are always indifferent to legal inquiries, as well as to demands of investors. Furthermore, banks misuse their states and ignore the investors' interest."
The holders of plastic cards are members of state organizations, institutions and departments. In such cases, where cash machines are either empty or do not work at all, one person collects all the cards on a particular day and approach to any employee of bank. This person receives the necessary sum from bank and later he distributes this money amongst his colleagues. It means that he acts as a cashier. Sometimes this work takes more than one day.
Besides inconvenience, connected with cash, the card holders lose most while purchasing food products and different goods. The machines, used for cash calculation, have not been installed in all trade centres. However, the prices in supermarkets, where the cash machines were installed, are higher than in bazaars. The prices are fixed and customers cannot argue with the high prices. Such profanation, connected with plastic cards, is observed in Uzbekistan.