A large number of Albanians do not put their savings in the banks and are not yet accustomed to moving them in financial institutions. Among them dominate Albanians who do business, mainly trade. The majority of them do not keep their money in the bank, but at home.
IBNA has looked into this phenomenon and has come out with several data which explain why many Albanians do not prefer banks when it comes to keeping their money.
Dritan is 58 years of age. He has a commercial business in Tirana, with shops in two other cities too. He says that he doesn’t like to keep his money in the bank. For him, it is better to keep the money at home, for many reasons.
“I cannot keep my money in the bank. In the bank I only keep that part which is necessary for the payment of taxes and other obligations. The rest I don’t keep it there. It is impossible for many reasons. We move a lot and we need to have money with us in order to make purchases. We do trade in small amounts and it is good to have the money ready to obtain the best prices”.
On the other hand, Dritan also identifies other reasons: “It is pointless to keep the money in savings accounts. The interests are insignificant. You leave your money to the banks, they earn by investing in the stock exchange and other investments and at the end of the year you obtain almost nothing. Thus, it is better if the money stays with me”, Dritan says.
Dritan has another concern: “We haven’t forgotten what happened to our money in the past. They took it from us by promising high interest rates and the money disappeared”, he says referring to the financial pyramids of 1996-1197 when the state collapsed and a serious civil chaos started claiming the lives of several thousands and left many others wounded.
The trauma that Albanians have seen with their money
During fifty years of the communist regime, Albanians could not ed a culture of keeping the money in the bank. There were three banks at that time, the Savings Bank, Commercial Bank and Agrarian Bank. The last two ones merged into what is known today as the National Commercial Bank. The first one was acquired by Raiffeisen Bank and is today the largest bank in Albania.
These banks used to move Albania’s money, but very little money belonging to the citizens. The reason is simple: People had no money to save.
However, a small part had savings accounts and regularly deposited money there.
In 1991, their savings shrank drastically. But this was not the only time. Six years later, the scandal of the financial schemes took place, which led to the destruction of the state and caused many suffering for Albanians, the consequences of which are being felt even today.
Like Dritan, others too are skeptic as to whether they should put the money in the bank. But there are other reasons: “I can hardly save 100 euros a month. Is it worth it to put it in the bank”, says Esmeralda, a 28 year old woman who works for a private company in Tirana. “And to think that I am the highest paid employee of the company with almost 1200 euros a month and at the end of the month I can hardly save one tenth of the salary”. As reasons for this Esmeralda mentions the fact that she doesn’t live at home, high rents, expensive standards of living, the fact that she is obliged to wear expensive clothes, being a sales manager and her age which tends to enjoy night life.
The way how Albanians save their money has also attracted the interest of the experts of the World Bank. They have conducted a study to find out how many people are financially educated. The figures that they have found are pessimistic. Around 47% of the population have a tendency to keep their money outside of banks. What’s more, very few of them use investment and pension funds. Fewer buy T-bills. Meanwhile, Albania still doesn’t have a Stock Exchange. The preference to keep savings outside of legal institutions is justified with the weak financial culture.
The study showed than in Albania, only 14% of the people who were asked, had financial knowledge on the issues mentioned above.
Under these circumstances, the World Bank says that Albania is the country with the biggest informality in terms of individual savings.
Up until 2005, financial informality was even higher. The majority of Albanians received their salary or pension in job offices or pension offices. In the past ten years, the situation has changed. All state institutions transfer the salaries of their employees in the bank. The law requires the private sector to do the same thing. Thus, the number of Albanians who have bank accounts has risen drastically. But the number of those who manage their savings outside of the banking sector and other financial institutions has also high. /balkaneu.com/