Methods of Payment
Few companies in Moldova can afford payments on large transactions and therefore credit arrangements will be needed for big projects. Moldovan banks also use a wide range of letters of credit, which provide greater protection to suppliers against payment delays.
Moldovan commercial banks are members of SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Inter-bank Financial Telecommunications).
The Moldovan leu is the only accepted legal tender in the retail and service sectors in Moldova. Foreign exchange regulations allow foreigners and residents to use foreign currencies in some current and capital transactions on the territory of Moldova. Generally, there are no difficulties associated with the exchange of foreign or local currency in Moldova.
For more information about the methods of payment or other trade finance options, please read the Trade Finance Guide.
Moldova’s banking system was set up in two tiers in 1991 around the time of the breakup of the USSR and currently comprises a central bank and 11 commercial banks. The central bank licenses supervises and regulates the activity of financial institutions.
Moldova has four foreign banks; among them OTP Bank (Hungary), Banca Transilvania (Romania) and Erste Bank (Austria) are the best-known. While Moldova’s regulatory landscape does not prevent banks from opening offices in other towns, most bank offices are concentrated in Chisinau, which is both the administrative and economic capital of Moldova.
In contrast to the West, banks still play a minor role in the country’s economic development and business activity. Moldovan banks are highly capitalized; however, they provide limited consumer and business financing. Interest rates remain high relative to the region. Banks usually require collateral to issue credit. Moldova’s securities market is underdeveloped. Loans and state treasury bills provide limited diversification for the banks’ assets because Moldova’s stock market remains underdeveloped and provides limited options for long-term investments. Banks sometimes rely on long-term credit lines from the World Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and other international financial institutions.
Foreign Exchange Controls
Moldova accepted Article VIII of the IMF Charter in 1995, which required liberalization of current foreign exchange operations. The national currency, the Leu (plural Lei), is fully convertible for business purposes, with the central bank applying a managed free float to reduce sharp currency fluctuations. There are no restrictions on the conversion or transfer of funds associated with foreign investment in Moldova. Foreign investors can freely repatriate their earnings. After the payment of taxes, foreign investors are permitted to repatriate residual funds. Residual-funds transfers are not subject to any other duties or taxes, and do not require special permission. Companies are not obliged to sell their hard currency earnings to the government.
Banks accept and issue credit cards. Credit cards are accepted at many hotels, restaurants, and stores. ATMs are available throughout the capital Chisinau and other cities.
U.S. Banks and Local Correspondent Banks
There are no U.S. banks in Moldova. The National Bank of Moldova maintains a list of licensed commercial banks that includes their SWIFT information. Few commercial banks have correspondent account relationships with U.S. banks, but most have correspondent relationships with European banks.
To access Moldova’s ICS section on financing, visit the U.S. Department of State Investment Climate Statement website.