The BCRA has relaxed the operations of foreign exchange houses

The Board of the Central Bank of Argentina approved in today’s session a reform to the regime for foreign exchange houses, agencies and offices in order to make their operations more flexible and to remove unnecessary restrictions within the current context of free foreign exchange transactions.

This reform aims to achieve three specific objectives:

1) to give more competence to the foreign exchange sector in order to reduce spreads.

2) to migrate informal transactions to the formal sector.

3) to expand the availability of “cashiers” for foreign exchange transactions in order to facilitate transactions, especially for tourists who are visiting our country.

To attain these goals, the Central Bank has relaxed the requirements to open foreign exchange houses, their branches included. In this regard, collateral and minimum capital requirements were reduced. While foreign exchange houses and agencies require the Central Bank’s license to start up business, while the opening of their branches do not. However, the opening of branches is to be reported.

At the same time, banks have been licensed to conduct foreign exchange transactions as a complementary activity through a controlled company. From now on, a bank may own a foreign exchange house, which have been forbidden up to the present, and carry out its inherent activities as well.

The new regime facilitates the opening of branches of foreign exchange houses and agencies (belonging or not to a financial institution) in other business ventures such as hotels, tourist agencies, car rentals, and even restaurants or stores. Any business related to tourism will, in turn, have the chance to carry out foreign exchange transactions on an independent basis.

In this regard, it should be noted that there are no restrictions on opening hours for carrying out foreign exchange transactions.

On the basis of this decision, and in line with the regulatory regime established as from the foreign exchange rate unification in December 2015, the Central Bank lays the foundations for the foreign exchange activity in Argentina to be developed in a competitive, user-friendly and legal way.

November 3rd, 2016

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