Covers payment methods, things to know about banking system , foreign exchange controls, U.S. and correspondent banking.
Methods of Payment
Cash and mobile money are by far the most used methods of payment in Guinea, with even large business transactions being completed in cash. This extends to transactions being completed in Guinean Francs and foreign currencies. Checks and bank to bank transfers are not as common as cash transactions. The government established a financial cell within the presidency in June 2021 to lead the process of obtaining a credit rating for Guinea, to increase to international capital markets and to improve Guinea’s image and reputation among international investors. The unit is not yet operational.
For more information about the methods of payment or other trade finance options, please read the Trade Finance Guide available at https://www.trade.gov/trade-finance-guide-quick-reference-us-exporters
Guinea’s financial system is small and dominated by the banking sector. It comprises 15 active banks and 26 microfinance institutions with a total of 376 branches across the country. Guinea also has 13 insurance firms, three money-transfer companies, and 45 currency exchange offices. Guinea’s banking sector is overseen by the Guinea Central Bank (BCRG), and it serves as the agent of the treasury for overseeing banking and credit operations in Guinea and abroad.
Due to the difficulty of accessing funding from commercial banks, small commercial and agricultural enterprises have increasingly turned to microfinance, which has been growing rapidly with a net increase in deposits and loans. Of the more than $21 million of outstanding microfinance loans in 2020, 92 percent were in repayment while 8 percent were in delinquency or default.
Credit to the private sector is low but increasing; at around 10 percent of GDP in 2017, up from 2.5 percent in 2010. The Sub-Saharan Africa average is around 45 percent. Where credit is available, it is on expensive terms: the average lending interest rate is 22 percent in Guinea, compared with about 7 percent in West Africa Economic and Monetary Union countries and between 14 and 16 percent in Liberia and Sierra Leone. The banking sector is highly concentrated, technologically behind, and banks tend to favor short-term lending at high interest rates. While the microfinance sector grew strongly from a small base, microfinance institutions were hit hard during the Ebola crisis; they are not profitable and need capacity and technology upgrades.
Foreign Exchange Controls
Guinea’s Investment Code guarantees the free transfer of capital.
U.S. Banks and Local Correspondent Banks
No U.S. banks have local branches or operations in Guinea, but Vista Bank is a U.S. owned regional bank. In July 2021, Vista Bank finalized a deal to acquire Guinea’s largest bank, BICIGUI. Vista Bank will rebrand the 87 branches as VISTAGUI by late 2022 or early 2023. EcoBank is the preferred bank for most U.S. dealings with U.S. Foreign Account Tax Compliant Act (FACTA) reporting requirements.