National Bank to discontinue exchange of Ukrainian hryvnia on 9 December

National Bank to discontinue exchange of Ukrainian hryvnia on 9 December
Ukrainian hryvnia. Credit: Belga

Ukrainian refugees registered in Belgium have been able to convert hryvnia banknotes into euros at the National Bank of Belgium (NBB) and other banks since 1 June, but the exchange system will be discontinued on Friday.

The exchange of the Ukrainian currency was made possible thanks to an agreement concluded between the NBB, the National Bank of Ukraine, the Belgian Federal Government and the banking sector. The service was not only offered at the NBB, but also at private banks Belfius, Beobank, BNP Paribas Fortis, CBC, ING, KBC, and KBC Brussels.

"After Poland, Belgium was one of the first EU Member States to offer the limited exchange of Ukrainian hryvnias into euros (up to ₴10,000 per person)," the NBB said in a press release on Tuesday.

Before the war, Ukraine’s currency, the Hryvnia, was restricted, meaning that banks and currency exchanges did not carry or exchange these types of notes. This proved extremely problematic once the war started as Ukrainians fleeing the country often did not have time to deposit their cash into their bank accounts. They arrived in Europe with national banknotes, quickly discovering that the notes were nearly worthless.

Between 1 June and 8 November 2022, exchanges totalling €300,000 were handled free of charge by the NBB and branches of certain participating commercial banks. The NBB alone dealt with 522 transactions.

Since the start of the arrangement, however, the number of transactions has fallen sharply. In the entire month of November, for example, only three exchanges were carried out, compared with more than 250 in June.

The National Bank of Ukraine believes that hryvnia holders have had sufficient time to exchange the currency and has therefore decided to put an end to the arrangement, which is why it will not extend its agreements with various central banks in the Eurozone.

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