Kosovo stands in the bottom of the list in the region on the number of bank branches and services and ATM machines. In recent years, Kosovo’s commercial banks had continually reduced their branches and ATM machines, thus, making the access of bank services to Kosovars more and more difficult.
This issue was also highlighted in the recent “Kosovo National Retail Payment Strategy” document, compiled by Kosovo Central Bank, CBK. In this strategy, it is also stated that the bank infrastructure is mostly concentrated in the capital city and other major cities. Up until 2017, the number of Bank branches per 100,000 adult inhabitants reduced to 16.8 from 20.6 in 2015.
This state of affairs makes Kosovo with fewer bank branches in the region. Montenegro tops the list with bank branches standing at 43.6 per 100,000 inhabitants, followed by Bosnia and Herzegovina with 28.3, Serbia with 28.2, North Macedonia with 25.6 and Albania with 20.6.
“The abovementioned numbers picture a decrease of bank branches. Although the Law on The System of Payments through article 1.3, allows the banks to use the agents, this opportunity has not been exercised sufficiently in practice,” reads the strategy.
Similarly to the lack of sufficient ATM services in Kosovo, the POS (POINT OF SALES) services remain underdeveloped, in comparison with the region. While the POS terminals per 100,000 stands at 642, it is still the lowest in the region, excluding Albania.
Montenegro tops the list in the region with POS services or 87 per 100,000 inhabitants. In comparison with 2015, in 2018, the number of ATM machines per 100,000 adult inhabitants has decreased from 40 to 35.5 while the POS services from 540 increased to 642. ATM machines are mostly used for Cash withdrawal, and only 15 percent of the ATM machines offer the option of money transfer.
The POS terminals are mostly used for payments with Credit Cards in Sales Services, although recently, some banks have started to offer cash withdrawal services in the sales points. Likewise in the bank branches, the distribution of POS services also is problematic in terms of regions.
By the end of 2019, roughly 34.6 percent of ATM machines and POS terminals were located in the region of Prishtina, which created a huge gap and unequal bank services between the capital city and the rest of the country. /Buletini Ekonomik/