On October 12, the Venezuelan Central Bank (BCV, in Spanish) published a circular addressed to the banking sector ordering the suspension of all products or services used to facilitate the payment of goods and services in foreign currency as well as deposits in foreign currency accounts in the national financial system. The measure is already in force. President Nicolás Maduro reported that until October 18, the country will be under a “radical” lockdown within the framework of the “7+7” scheme to curb the spread of COVID-19.
The BCV circular, which applies to both banks and microfinance institutions, indicates that the payment in foreign currency of goods and services in Venezuela is considered to be tantamount to “withdrawing cash from one account and transferring it to another, given the lack of action by a foreign correspondent of the transaction.” The text explains that such an operation is not authorized. Likewise, the BCV reports that it has not authorized any company to operate as a Non-Bank Provider of payment services in foreign currency, so any activity of that nature is in breach of the regulations in force.
For its part, the president’s announcement implies that only those working in essential activities such as food, health and transportation are allowed to travel around. Economic sectors which are not included must cease activity until October 19. It is worth remembering that the Executive’s economic reactivation scheme proposes two consecutive stages of seven days each, seven days of lockdown followed by seven days of commercial activities.