On May 4, 2018, the Albanian Association of Banks (AAB), organized the Card Forum on the topic: “Transforming Cards and Payments toward a Cashless Economy”. This forum was organized with the support of PayLink and Asseco. Representatives from public institutions, central bank, commercial banks, non-bank financial institutions, international financial institutions, private companies, business organizations, Hellenic Associations of Banks and Kosovo as well, attended the event.
For the first time, AAB organized this technical forum using a new format, organized in two sessions, each of them as a panel discussion, to address issues related to the topic directly.
During his welcome speech the AAB Chairman, Mr. Silvio Pedrazzi, stated that the improvement on the use of credit or debit cards as a payment instrument is an irreplaceable contribution to the fight against informality, facilitates the cost of money in circulation because it involves going toward a cashless economy, providing a completed package for services provided to the clients and increases the personal safety of individuals.
The key speech was held by Mrs. Elisabeta Gjoni, First Deputy Governor of the Bank of Albania and Chairman of the National Payments System Committee. Mrs. Gjoni thanked all actors for their efforts and energies to enable cards to be one of the most family-friendly payment instruments for the Albanian consumer in their daily lives. The participants get acquainted with the plans and projects of the Bank of Albania in the context of development of payments and in particular on the cards sector.
The first panel discussion was comprised of: Ms. Albana Shkurta, Deputy Minister of Finance and Economy; Mrs. Vasilika Vjero, General Director, General Directorate of Taxation; Mr. Zak Topuzi, Head of the Hotel Sector, Albanian Tourism Association; Mr. Vasilis Panagiotidis, Director of Payments, Hellenic Banking Association; Mrs. Ana Markovic from VISA and Mrs. Murra, Mastercard’ representative. Under the moderation of AAB Secretary General, this session identified some of the main reasons some of the main reasons behind the actual card payment volumes generated and limited card acceptance in Albania. Panelists stressed the necessity of using card payments as a means of fighting informality and lowering cash in the economy.
The second session of the forum addressed the opportunities in increasing card payments usage in Albania. The panelists: Mr. Fatih Karli, Group Head – Retail Banking, BKT; Mrs. Nataliia Kochu from VISA; Mr. Andras Meth, from Mastercard; Mr. Dritan Molland, PayLink Advisor; Mrs. Linda Shomo, CEO & founder of Easy Pay, and Mr. Eltion Koci, Treasury Manager, Balfin Group; discussed how to make cardholders change their behavior and extent their card purchase capacity. Cooperation between banks and non-bank institutions to increase the use of cards and best practices covering the three payment acceptance areas at the merchant point of sale: in-store, online and mobile were the topics dealt with during this session. The session was moderated by Mrs. Nevila Kovaci, Chairperson of the AAB Card Committee.
In addition, the second session included presentations from the two companies that supported this organization.
During the break between the two sessions, different companies related to the cards were able to demonstrate their services.
The forum was closed with the remarks by Mr. Spiro Brumbulli, AAB Secretary General, who invited the actors in the market to be involved in an educational campaign aimed at raising the use of the card as a payment instrument, as well as the commitment that the issues identified in this Forum to be followed by AAB in the coming months.