Directing Attention to Investments: The Advantage for the Albanian Economy Through a Distinct Payment System




Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors from Western Balkan countries gathered in Tirana to discuss integration into the European payment system. The move, part of the EU's Growth Plan, aims to significantly reduce transaction costs for citizens in the region.

The focus on Western Balkans joining the Single European Payment Area (SEPA) was highlighted during the Ministerial Meeting preceding the Western Balkans and EU Leaders Summit. This integration into SEPA is viewed as a unique opportunity for economic benefits, with potential savings for both the region and the EU.

Albania's Finance Minister, Ervin Mete, emphasized that joining SEPA would reduce payment costs within the region and with the EU. He noted the EU's significance as the largest trade partner and the main source of foreign direct investments for Albania and the region.

Over 70% of Western Balkans' exports go to EU member states, and the EU contributes nearly 70% of the total GDP in the region. Mete highlighted the role of remittances, emphasizing the potential cost savings for immigrants and their families through SEPA inclusion.

Joining SEPA, according to Mete, provides access to modern and secure payment systems, enhancing attractiveness for investments. He stressed the importance of digitalization in payments, aligning with the region's Digital Agenda.

Albania is ready to meet EU regulations for SEPA transactions, having aligned its legal framework with EU directives on anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing. With World Bank support, Western Balkan countries are working towards fulfilling the necessary conditions for SEPA membership.

In conclusion, Mete emphasized that digitalizing payments is a strategic priority, contributing to the broader digitalization of the economy. Albania looks forward to further economic growth through efficient cross-border payments and enhanced tourism.