Poland - Country Commercial Guide
Trade Financing
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Methods of Payment

Import financing procedures in Poland take place under seller-buyer terms. Popular payment mechanisms include payment against documents and electronic funds transfers. The safest method of receiving payment for a U.S. export sale is through an irrevocable letter of credit (L/C). Because most banks in Poland require the importer to deposit funds prior to issuance of a L/C, however, few buyers and sellers use this method due to its cost. The most popular payment mechanism is electronic funds transfer (SWIFT or wire transfers) as it is the fastest and cheapest way to transfer funds. Cash payment or down payments provide an extra measure of security for export sales. Leasing is a popular method of financing vehicles, heavy equipment, and other capital-intensive items. Both private and public insurance is available in Poland.

The following rating agencies maintain offices in Poland:  EuroRating Sp. z o.o.; Moody’s Investors Service Limited, Polish Branch; Standard & Poor, Representative Office; and Fitch Ratings (branch office). The first agency appears on the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) list of registered and certified credit rating agencies.

There are dozens of collection agencies in Poland, including KRUK SA and BEST SA. The major ones are listed in the Warsaw Business Journal’s Book of Lists.

Payment cards are commonly used, with debit cards constituting the majority. Both ATMs and commercial entities accept popular credit cards (VISA, MasterCard, Diner’s Club, and American Express) and payment cards (VISA Electron and Maestro). The most commonly used cards are Europay International, MasterCard, Visa, and American Express. Poland is one of the strongest markets in Europe in mobile-payment technologies and leads in the number of contactless transactions. Over 90% of all cards issued in Poland are contactless enabled.

The latest data show that the number of mobile and contactless payment users is constantly growing. More than 22 million Poles actively used online banking in 2022, and 19.3 million used mobile applications. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic suddenly changed the payments market picture. During the lockdown, most transactions were cashless. The e-commerce market developed, making electronic payments even more popular.

Many digital wallet options are available in Poland, including international options like PayPal, Google Pay, and Apple Pay, all of which can be used online or on mobile phones. Additionally, there are mobile-first digital wallets available, including Skrill and PayU mobile. Poles are interested in and willing to test new payment methods.

Domestic mobile payment system BLIK has been a Polish success story. The product was developed and is run by major Polish banks. It offers one-click purchasing, automated teller machine withdrawals, and peer-to-peer payments via smartphone. Blik was preferred digital payment method in Poland in 2022, ranked first, with 70 percent of respondents reporting using it as their preferred online payment method. It was followed by Pay-by-Link and payments via cards.

Poland also has a successful home-grown instant payment clearing scheme, Express Elixir. It operates 24/7 and allows settling of transactions in near real time.

For more information about methods of payment or other trade finance options, please read the Trade Finance Guide available at Trade Finance Guide.

Banking Systems

Poland has a sound, non-discriminatory financial services infrastructure. While the banking sector remains well capitalized and stable, banks face legal and regulatory challenges including final MREL targets and FX mortgage legal risks as well as policies that increase costs for banks (including mortgage credit holidays). The banking sector plays a dominant role in the financial system, accounting for around 70% of financial sector assets. The state owns several banks, but private banks control more than half of the banking sector. Foreign banks’ share in total assets of the sector was around 42 percent in June 2023. The country had 30 locally incorporated commercial banks as of June 2023, according to the Financial Supervision Authority (KNF. There are many cooperative banks (over 490), but collectively they account for a relatively small share of the market. All three types of banks offer a wide range of services to their customers. Lenders from EU countries are permitted to form branches in Poland or provide cross-border services under single-market rules.

Poland’s universal banking system provides deposits, loans, and securities trading services. State-owned bank BGK administers target funds (e.g., municipal development, road, housing, technology); it is responsible for the payment of the majority of EU funds granted to Poland; provides special credit services, including homeowner mortgages and guarantees to export companies; and issues bonds for financing infrastructure (road) project and various government programs mitigating negative effects on the economy (e.g., due to the COVID-19 pandemic or high inflation). BGK is an important part of the Polish Development Fund. BGK also supports SMEs with credit guarantees as part of the so-called de minimis aid program. BGK is also an important player in the Three Seas Initiative.

Popularity of online and mobile banking continues to grow, causing bank networks to shrink. All major Polish banks offer online services, from balance-cheque functions to cash transfers and deposits. Deposits and loans are available in the national currency, the Polish zloty (PLN), and foreign currencies. The Financial Supervision Commission (KNF) has restricted the availability of loans in euros and Swiss francs to minimize the banking system’s exposure to the exchange risk resulting from exchange rate fluctuations. Only individuals who earn salaries denominated in foreign currencies continue to enjoy easy access to loans in foreign currencies. Credit agreements require borrowers to provide data on their economic and financial standing. It is common practice when granting credit to require bank guarantees, drafts, or other forms of collateral.

The Polish banking sector recovered rapidly from the pandemic, driven by strong GDP growth in 2021 and 2022. Solvency remains adequate, while funding and liquidity are at solid levels and well above regulatory minima. Banking profitability improved significantly following the increase in interest rates but could suffer in the future from the costs associated with the potential annulment in courts of legacy foreign-currency denominated mortgages in addition to costs of the mortgage repayment holidays adopted by the government in July 2022. This could also have implications for credit supply. Private sector lending, in particular housing loans, cooled down rapidly in 2022 amid a rise in borrowing costs and stricter bank lending standards.

KNF oversees banks as well as other financial market entities. If an investor intends to exceed a 10%, 20%, 33.3%, or 50% threshold in a bank, insurance company, mutual fund or a brokerage house, the investor needs to notify KNF of its plans. KNF then has up to 60 days to object to the investor’s acquisition plans if it believes that the acquiring company will not be able to guarantee stable management of the financial institution it seeks to acquire.

In August 2023, Poland’s main interest rate dropped from 6.75% to 6.0% despite high inflation exceeding the central bank’s inflation target four times.

Challenges that Polish banks may face in 2024 include the impact of high interest rates on economic activity, high inflation, weaker consumer sentiment, and the unresolved problem of foreign currency mortgage exposures and possible extension of mortgage loans holidays. The conditions for the functioning of Polish financial institutions are adversely affected by high macroeconomic uncertainty, a consequence of the continued Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The direct exposure of the financial sector to countries affected by war and sanctions is low.

The Polish government has not yet decided whether it intends to join the European Union banking union as a non-euro zone member.

For more information on the banking sector see the Financial System Section of the Investment Climate Statement.

Foreign Exchange Controls

The Polish zloty is fully convertible and there are no foreign exchange controls affecting trade in goods. Companies operating in Poland have free access to foreign currency, and there have been no failures of the banking system to provide hard currency on demand. Polish law allows repatriation of profits, including through bonds and securities.

Under the terms of its EU Accession, Poland is required to adopt the euro. The government has no fixed date for euro adoption, however.

U.S. Banks and Local Correspondent Banks

Major U.S. Banks 

Citi Handlowy – Bank Handlowy w Warszawie S.A. 

ul.  Goleszowska 6    

01-249 Warszawa    

Telephone:  +48 22 657 7200
E-mail: listybh@citi.com      

 

Bank BPH S.A.  
ul.Cypriana Kamila Norwida 1
80-280 Gdańsk
Telephone: +48 58 300 7500
E-mail: kontaktBPH@ge.com     

 

JP Morgan Europe sp. z o.o.
Oddział w Polsce    
ul.  Jana Pawla II 19    
00-854 Warszawa    
Telephone: +48 22 441 9573 
E-mail: Contact Us | J.P. Morgan (jpmorgan.com)   

 

Goldman Sachs Poland Services sp. z o.o.
Warsaw Spire
Plac Europejski 1
00-844 Warszawa
Telephone: +48 22 317 4000
E-mail: receptionwarsaw@ny.email.gs.com   

 

Major Local Correspondent Banks

PKO Bank Polski
ul.  Pulawska 15
02-515 Warszawa
Telephone: +48 22 521 6103
E-mail: Contact - PKO Bank Polski (pkobp.pl)     

  

Bank Pekao S.A.
ul.  Grzybowska 53/57
00-950 Warszawa
Telephone: +48 22 656 0000
E-mail: info@pekao.com.pl   

  

Santander Bank Polska S.A.
Jana Pawla II 17   
00-854 Warszawa  
Telephone: +48 71 393 8888  
E-mail: kontakt@santander.pl

 

mBank S.A.
ul. Prosta 18 
00-850 Warszawa   
Telephone: + 48 22 829 0000 
E-mail: kontakt@mbank.pl    

   

ING Bank Slaski S.A.   
ul.  Sokolska 34   
40-086 Katowice   
Telephone: +48  32 357 0096   
E-mail: ingbankonline@ingbank.pl

For additional information on financing, visit the U.S. Department of State Investment Climate Statements.