With banks closing their doors since mid-October during the protests, people preferred dealing in cash payments. In fact, the latest statistics provided by the Association of Lebanese Banks (ABL) showed annual contractions of 50% and 48% in the number and value of cleared checks, respectively, to stand at 533,662 checks worth $3.1Billion (B) in the month of October 2019. In details, the value of checks denominated in foreign currencies (representing 55.5% of the total) and in Lebanese Pounds fell by a yearly 57.3% and 26.9%, to $1.7B and $1.4B, respectively, in October 2019.
Meanwhile, the first 10 months of 2019 witnessed yearly downticks of 16.1% and 18.1% in the number and value of cleared checks, respectively, to stand at 8.3M checks worth $45.5B. In details, the volume and value of cleared checks denominated in Lebanese Pounds respectively grew by annual 2.6% and 3.0% in 2019, to 3.8M checks and $17.5B by October 2019. The contraction in the number and value of foreign currency-denominated checks was more pronounced, as the number and value of cleared checks declined by an annual 24.9% and 25.4% to 4.5M and $27.9B, respectively. Correspondingly, the dollarization rate of cleared checks in terms of volume and value slipped from 60.8% and 67.5% by October 2018 to 54.5% and 61.5% by Oct. 2019.
In turn, looking at returned checks, the number and value of returned checks recorded annual downticks of 7% and 14.1%, to settle at 212,580 checks and $1.1B, respectively.
Number & Value of Cleared Checks by October (in $B)