Egypt Limits Bank Withdrawals To Curb Hoarding

In Egypt, banks have been told to impose a limit on cash withdrawals and deposits in a move to hopefully stop hoarding and inflation.

The new limit will be 10,000 Egyptian pounds ($635) and 50,000 pounds for companies per day. There will be exceptions for those using the money to pay employees, according to a central bank statement. There will also be a limit of 5,000 pounds on ATM withdrawals and deposits, the statement said.

The limits aren’t without justification — central bank governor Tarek Amer said on a talk show Sunday, March 29 that there had been 30 billion Egyptian pounds withdrawn in the last three weeks from the country’s banks. That’s equivalent to $1.91 billion.

The bank is also asking residents to rely on e-payments and electronic transfers rather than using cash banknotes. The banks were instructed to do away with fees on electronic payments for now as a matter of convenience to the citizens.

Amer said on the talk show that it seemed many people had been withdrawing excess amounts of money from the banks even though they didn’t need it. He called for “some discipline” with that behavior, and said “we live in a society and we have to think of others.”

Egypt has been hit by the fast-spreading coronavirus as much as any country, with 33 new cases reported Sunday. Overall, the country has seen 609 confirmed infections and 40 deaths. The country has ordered mosques to shut their doors as of March 21, which the Ministry of Islamic Endowments said they’d enforce indefinitely.

The coronavirus pandemic has infected and killed people by the thousands worldwide. Egypt’s promotion of cashless means is not unusual. In the U.K., the use of cash banknotes has plummeted amid fears of potential germs that could be traveling alongside the money out of ATMs. U.K. customers haven’t been hoarding cash, either, however. The World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended that people wash their hands after handling money, particularly after eating as well.

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