It covers payment methods and information on, banking systems, foreign exchange controls, and U.S. and correspondent banking.
Methods of Payment
Large Georgian banks service foreign trade transactions. Methods of payment generally include a letter of credit or advance payment. To carry out transactions through banks, buyers and sellers must have a written contract. Because of high interest rates and short‐term lending offered by local banks, most enterprises prefer to purchase equipment through supplier‐financed transactions.
For more information about the methods of payment or other trade finance options, please read the Trade Finance Guide.
The central bank is the National Bank of Georgia (NBG). It sets monetary policy, issues licenses, and supervises the activities of banking institutions and currency exchange offices. To regulate circulating money and encourage deposits in Georgian lari (GEL), the national legal tender, the NBG requires commercial banks to keep a certain percentage of their foreign currency deposit liabilities in reserve.
The U.S. government has assisted the NBG to accelerate financial sector development in Georgia. NBG and most commercial banks use SWIFT to process international payments and messages. There are no restrictions on the number of bank accounts individuals and enterprises may hold with Georgian banks. Banking is one of the fastest growing sectors in the Georgian economy. The cost of lending remains high but may decline as Georgia’s banking sector develops.
As of June 1, 2022, Georgia’s banking sector consists of 14 commercial banks, including 13 foreign-controlled banks, with 154 commercial bank branches and 756 service centers throughout the country. Two Georgian banks are listed on the London Stock Exchange: TBC Bank (listed in 2014), and the Bank of Georgia (2006).
Credit from commercial banks is available to foreign investors as well as domestic clients, although interest rates are high. Banks continue offering business, consumer, and mortgage loans. The International Finance Corporation (IFC), European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), Asian Development Bank (ADB), and other international development agencies have a variety of lending programs that make credit available to large and small businesses in Georgia. At the beginning of 2021, 38 microfinance organizations operated in Georgia, making small credit available to businesses.
For more information see Chapter 6, Investment Climate Statement, Efficient Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment section.
Foreign Exchange Controls
The lari (GEL) is the only legal tender in Georgia; it has no informal or parallel exchange rates. Foreign businesses may convert GEL into hard currency at the market exchange rate and freely transfer the proceeds abroad without limitation. One may hold foreign exchange in bank notes or on deposit in designated bank accounts. There are no limitations on these accounts’ operations.
Since 1998, the GEL has maintained a floating currency. Despite the GEL’s nearly 40 percent depreciation against the dollar from 2015 to 2020, as of mid-2021 the NBG has indicated it has no plans to change its monetary policy.
All Georgian banks accept and issue credit cards. Credit cards are accepted at most of the hotels, restaurants, and stores in Tbilisi, but some small stores or establishments still do not accept them. ATMs are available throughout Tbilisi and in other cities.
U.S. Banks and Local Correspondent Banks
There are no U.S. banks with branches in Georgia, though most Georgian banks have correspondent accounts with U.S. banks. EXIM Bank does not offer any country specific programs in Georgia and nor does it have Georgia specific restrictions. For more information visit Country Limitation Schedule of EXIM.
To access Georgia’s ICS section on financing, visit the U.S. Department of State Investment Climate Statement website.