Innovations and Payment Systems

Iraqi credit cards take off

Credit cards have arrived in Iraq, four years after the U.S. invasion, reports National Public Radio.

While credit cards were unheard of under the regime of Saddam Hussein, at least one bank in the country now offers customers the chance to have their very own plastic.

The Trade Bank of Iraq has so far issued Iraqis 15,000 credit cards.

But unlike in some other countries, getting a regular credit card in Iraq is a tougher prospect. According to the Trade Bank of Iraq, a credit card is given only is cases where the applicant is known to the bank.

For Iraqi consumers with no history, the bank starts them off with a prepaid credit card instead.  

The bank explained that unlike in the West, where an applicant’s Social Security number is sufficient to check their credit history, lenders in Iraq do not yet have that ability.

Cash is still king in Iraq, with consumers even acknowledging that credit cards are most useful for transactions made outside the country. Still, some Iraqi cardholders are using their plastic to set up online businesses and make online purchases from vendors abroad.

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Published: June 6, 2007

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