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Malta - Banking


Malta has been a member of the European Union since 2004, and a member of the Eurozone since 1st January 2008. The Euro was introduced immediately although the Maltese pound stopped being legal tender twelve months later.

Today the Maltese national currency remains the Euro, divided into one hundred cents.

Malta has a stable political environment, being a democratic parliamentary republic operating within the independent country’s Constitution. It also has a stable legal environment which protects the registered ownership of assets. It is the EU’s smallest member state, so additional legal protection is offered to residents and businesses through EU legislation.

Overseas investors are attracted to Malta because of its highly efficient corporate structure, and its low cost base. Salaries are one third to one half of the average EU level.

Banks in Malta offer the same range of services you would expect to see in any EU country. Branch, telephone and online banking are available for all customers. Debit and credit cards are available, and ATMs are widespread. Customers can apply for current and savings accounts, and for a wide range of loan and mortgage products.

Because English is one of the official languages recognised in Malta and is widely spoken by the local population, you will be able to open a bank account and sort out banking transactions both in branch and on the telephone with someone who speaks fluent English. The online banking pages are also available in English.

In order to open a bank account in Malta you will need to visit a branch in person; it is a good idea to ring ahead and arrange an appointment. You must bring along the following original documents:

• Passport or an official government photo ID card
• Utility bill showing your name and full address, dated within the last 3 months
• Bank reference from your previous or current bank, showing your credit history

You will be asked to complete and sign an application form for the bank account. Many banks allow you to do this online prior to attending your appointment.

Banks will have a list of charges applicable to each bank account. Make sure you review this list and agree that the charges are reasonable for your own circumstances before you sign the application form.

There is a good choice of retail banks available in Malta, with both local and international banks offering current accounts. The list includes:

Central Bank of Malta
Bank of Valletta (BOV)
FIMBank
Banif Bank
CommBank
HSBC Malta
APS Bank

Barclays also offers banking services to expats living in Malta, but in 2015 notified customers that their accounts would only remain open if they had £100,000 invested with the bank.

Banks registered in an EU state must join that state’s €100,000 deposit protection scheme. Malta is part of the EU and registered banks belong to the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) depositor compensation scheme. In the event a bank can no longer operate, customers will receive compensation from the MFSA at the same level as their bank deposit, up to a cap of €100,000. However, it is up to the customer to research the financial institution they are about to invest in as some important caveats can occur. In 2013 UK newspaper The Guardian reported that a 2012 MFSA policy prohibited or limited the ability of any newly licensed credit institutions from creating undue liabilities on the local deposit compensation scheme. Newly licensed bank Agribank had received a license in Malta, which gave it the right to operate throughout Europe, but customers at the time would not have access to the deposit compensation. This highlights the need to thoroughly check the terms and conditions of any bank account you consider opening.

Bank branches are normally open:
Monday - Thursday: 08:30 - 13:30
Friday: 08:30 - 16:30, with some branches staying open until 7pm
Saturday: 08:30 - 12:30

Debit and credit cards are widely used across Malta, and ATMs are widespread.

Paypal has become a popular way to make fast, personal payments with charges against the pre-authorised bank account or credit card sources.

There are numerous places to exchange currency, including currency exchange shops which will list the charges and the exchange rates.

Malta is generally a safe country but robberies, handbag snatching, pick-pocketing and theft from parked cars does happen. The crowded afternoon buses on the 12 and 13 routes between Valletta and St Julian’s are targeted by pick-pockets so extra vigilance should be exercised here.

Scams involving romance, friendship, business ventures, work and employment opportunities target those living in Malta as much as elsewhere. When someone you have been corresponding with on the internet suddenly asks for money, or meets with you and you rapidly find yourself in a situation where money should be passed over to someone, then you have been targeted by scammers. Examples include paying for someone’s flight so they can meet you, paying for ‘lost’ documents that will allow your internet friend to have access to their inheritance or earnings, or money to start a business venture. If you are shown a suitcase of cash at any point, you know a scam is involved, whatever the circumstances it happens in. The victim is often unable to see the trap they have fallen into because they have built up a relationship with someone online over several months, and may be placed in a situation which gives them little time to think clearly. Even people on modest incomes can be targeted for the little they have, and pressurised to take out loans to hand over to the criminals.

As in other countries, many people in Malta receive telephone calls from complete strangers purporting to be the bank. The criminals tell the victim that urgent action must be taken to avert an unauthorised bank transfer of funds out of their bank account. If this happens to you, immediately put the phone down. From a different phone - in case you are still connected to the incoming call - phone your bank and ask for their fraud department.


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