The Central Bank of Cyprus regulates, supervises and monitors the country’s banking system. There are currently 14 domestic banks operating in Cyprus: 11 of them are commercial banks and three are specialised financial institutions (see below). In addition, there are around 30 international banking centres on the island.
The main domestic and foreign banks are the Alpha Bank Ltd, Bank of Cyprus, Co-operative Central Bank Ltd, Cyprus Popular Bank, Emporiki Bank (Cyprus Ltd), Hellenic Bank, National Bank of Greece (Cyprus) Ltd, Société Générale (Cyprus Ltd) and Universal Bank Ltd. Two other banks operate as branches of foreign banks: Arab Bank plc and National Bank of Greece SA.
The three specialised financial institutions are the Cyprus Development Bank Ltd, the Housing Finance Corporation and Mortgage Bank of Cyprus Ltd. They provide medium- and long-term finance to different sectors. The Cyprus Development Bank Ltd deals with investment banking operations and provides consulting services to companies. The Housing Finance Corporation provides long-term housing loans mainly to low and middle-income families, and the Mortgage Bank of Cyprus Ltd specialises in granting medium and long-term loans for the development of the tourism and manufacturing industries.
In addition to the domestic banks, international banking units (IBUs) are authorised to operate in the country by the Central Bank of Cyprus. However, they’re required to deal primarily with non-residents.
Obtain recommendations and as much information as you can about all the banks before you commit yourself. During the last few years, banks in Cyprus have extended their services beyond traditional banking and now offer such services as insurance, leasing, hire purchase finance, investment and consulting. They’ve also taken advantage of new technologies and offer customers telephone and internet banking services.
All Cypriot banking staff speak English and banks are modern, efficient and well equipped. Commercial banks in Cyprus have correspondents in the major cities throughout the world and transactions can be carried out in all major currencies. Most offer comprehensive services to both personal and business and investment customers, so it’s worth researching your options fully.
Further information on Cyprus’ banking system can be found on the website of the Central Bank (www.centralbank.gov.cy) and from the Association of Cyprus Commercial Banks (ACCB), which has a list of members and their services on its website (www.acb.com.cy).
Banking hours are usually from 8.15am to 1pm Mondays to Fridays and from 3.15 to 4.45pm on Monday afternoons only. Some branches in tourist areas offer an afternoon service on Tuesdays to Fridays from 3.30 or 4 until 6.30pm. International banks are open from 8.30am to 5.30pm. Banking facilities are available at the island’s two international airports (Larnaca and Paphos) up to 24 hours a day. Banks are closed at weekends and on public holidays.
This article is an extract from Buying a Home in Cyprus from Survival Books.