Since the beginning of May alone, Ukrainians have withdrawn UAH 22 billion in cash abroad.

Over the 20 days of May, almost half of all transactions with hryvnia cards of Ukrainians abroad accounted for cash withdrawals, including the so-called card tourism.

This was stated by the deputy head of the NBU Yuri Heletiy in an interview with Forbes Ukraine.

According to him, daily Ukrainian banks transfer about $100 million in favor of international payment systems due to the considerable volume of transactions with hryvnia cards abroad.

On the one hand, this is due to the departure of Ukrainians abroad due to the war, however, the NBU analyzed the structure of these operations and saw that from a third to a half of transactions are cash withdrawals.

“For example, in April, according to our estimates, 35% of the total volume of transactions of Ukrainians abroad accounted for cash withdrawals. This is about UAH 23 billion in equivalent. According to the results of 20 days of May, this figure is 45% (UAH 22 billion)” , he said.

Geletiy noted that more than half of these amounts are accounted for by bank customers who use the maximum or full monthly limit for withdrawing cash from foreign ATMs.

“Obviously, these are not only citizens who were forced to leave the country, but also the so-called “card tourists” who earn money by importing cash currency into Ukraine and reselling it through local networks of exchangers. This is a way to bypass restrictions on the purchase of currency,” explains the deputy head of the NBU.

At the same time, on the interbank market, he says, in some periods there was even an excess of foreign currency sales over purchases. The net demand of bank customers for non-cash currency is insignificant – about $20 million per day.

According to Heletiy, the NBU sees a business discussion on a free cash exchange rate, but is guided by two main tasks: to preserve foreign exchange resources for priority defense spending and critical imports, and to prevent unproductive capital outflow. In order to reduce speculation in the form of card tourism, the limit for withdrawing cash abroad from hryvnia cards is halved – up to UAH 50,000 per month.

“Now we see that the situation in the cash segment of the market is gradually normalizing,” the official sums up.

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