The Bank of Maldives will cease issuing Visa Debit cards in rufiya from today.
Earlier the bank announced that the Visa Debit cards restriction to dollar accounts would only apply to foreigners in the country, but has now extended this to Maldivian citizens.
“The cards already issued can be used in other countries until the expiry date. After that when renewing or making a new card, Visa Debit will be issued only if the primary account is a dollar account. For rufiyaa accounts Amex Debit Card will be issued which can only be used locally,” Card Centre Head Mohamed Shareef told Haveeru.
The move effectively prevents both locals and foreign nationals from using cards to spend and withdraw rufiya overseas in foreign currency. Many foreign professionals working in the islands, such as doctors and teachers, have complained that this prevents them from sending money home without travelling to Male’.
According to the bank, US$400 per day can be drawn from Visa Debit Cards issued for rufiyaa accounts at foreign point-of-sale machines, and US$200 per day from overseas ATMs.
Shareef told Haveeru that the changes were introduced in agreement with Visa after discussions about the foreign currency status in Maldives.
“The card is issued under conditions. If services are not provided, it is against the agreement with Visa,” he told the newspaper.
The thriving black market for dollars in the Maldives, now somewhat institutionalised, currently ranges from Rf13.2 to Rf15 to the dollar depending on the size of the transaction. The pegged rate is Rf12.85.