Payment systems in Lebanon

November 2003

Foreword

The Committee on Payment and Settlement Systems (CPSS) periodically publishes - under the aegis of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) - reference works on payment systems in various countries, widely known as Red Books. The CPSS has invited the central banks of a number of countries where important developments in payment systems are under way to prepare - in collaboration with its Secretariat at the BIS - separate volumes on their respective payment systems. The present volume, the second edition of the Red Book for Lebanon, is a further step towards increasing our understanding of the way payment systems work in different countries.

The first edition of the Red Book for Lebanon was published in September 1998. Since then, significant developments in the Lebanese payment systems and the promulgation of new laws and regulations related to payment instruments, clearing and settlement have made an updated version timely.

Properly functioning payment systems enhance the stability of the financial system, reduce transaction costs in the economy, promote the efficient use of financial resources, improve financial market liquidity and facilitate the conduct of monetary policy. In recent years, issues relating to the economic efficiency and financial risks of all types of payment systems have come to the fore.

Central banks have a strong interest in promoting safety and improving efficiency in payment systems. They play a key role in domestic payment system development and, in many cases, operate largevalue payment systems. Central banks in many countries have been influential in improving public understanding of payment and settlement arrangements in their countries and public awareness of the various policy issues connected with such arrangements.

Payment systems include not only retail money transfer systems used by businesses and consumers for commercial purposes but also large-value interbank funds transfer systems that underpin the money and credit markets of market-oriented economies. Systems for the settlement of securities transactions and the related payments are also key elements in financial system infrastructure.

We hope that this volume will contribute to the general understanding and awareness of payment and settlement arrangements in Lebanon, both domestically and internationally.

Both editions of the Red Book have been the result of cooperation between the Central Bank of Lebanon and the CPSS Secretariat. Within the central bank, the work has been coordinated by Dr Nasser Saidi, First Vice-Governor and Chairman of the Committee on Modern Banking and Financial Techniques and Information Technology (COBIT) until 31 July 2003, with contributions from Midclear and from the following departments of the central bank: Statistics and Economic Research, Current Operations, Financial Operations, Foreign Exchange and International Operations, Financial Markets, Treasury, Information Technology and Legal.

Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa Riad Toufic Salamé
Chairman, Committee on Governor
Payment and Settlement Systems Central Bank of Lebanon