The Bank of Maldives has moved its US dollar sales to its bazaar branch in a bid to speed up services for Maldivians requiring foreign exchange for overseas travel.
A dedicated set of counters have been set at the bazar branch, located in front of the Maldives Ports Limited in northwestern Malé, for customers who want to buy dollars prior to traveling abroad.
“After a careful review of the US Dollar sales process, the bank concluded that it can more effectively serve its customers by centralizing this service with a specialist team located in one branch,” BML said in a statement.
Long queues for dollars are common at the BML amid a persisting dollar shortage.
A total of US$500 will be sold during normal banking hours to each customer with a valid ticket and passport.
Foreign currency sales is an essential service for customers traveling abroad, said BML’s Retail Banking Director Mohamed Shareef.
“We had a careful look at how we could streamline our process to make it better. The consolidation of US Dollar sales in one branch will have a positive impact on the overall quality of service throughout our branches in Malé,” he added.
Customers who require dollars for purposes other than travel will have to get service at the main branch, BML said.
According to a 2015 survey by the central bank, the Maldives Monetary Authority, most Maldivians travel overseas for medical purposes. India was the most popular destination for medical travellers (61 percent), followed by Sri Lanka (34 percent),Thailand (two percent), Malaysia (one percent), and Singapore (one percent).
The average duration of a visit to India for medical purposes was 16 days while the average expenditure for such trips was US$737 per person. A trip to Sri Lanka to seek medical treatment costs about US$716 per person with an average duration of stay of around 13 days.
The BML has also introduced self-service cash and cheque deposit machines across the city to improve customer services.