A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

don’t bank on it: more about banking in Lebanon

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on December 20, 2007

Last night I had a drink with a friend whose latest professional ambition is to own a bank.

To own a bank, but not to run it, as I learned when I suggested that operating a bank might require a background in … well, … banking.

Oh no, Diamond, my friend said. I will hire someone to run it. I prefer always to have a proxy.

A great deal of newspaper ink and political rhetoric has been expended in warning that Lebanon is in danger of becoming the site for a proxy confrontation between the US and Syria, between Saudi Arabia and Iran, or any other pairing of likely suspects. I’m surprised the word retains any positive connotations here.

If my friend does succeed in buying a Lebanese bank, I have some suggestions thanks to my experiences with BLOM.

Like, don’t build computing systems so fragile that they can go down for extended periods of time. A few weeks ago, I stopped by my local branch to transfer money to one of my US accounts. (“Of course”, I cannot do this online.)

I’m sorry, the teller told me, but our system is down.

So I should come back when – in an hour? I asked.

No, she said firmly. Not today. Maybe tomorrow, or the day after.

Right. This is the bank that is Lebanon’s big success story. Maybe what sets BLOM apart is that other banks’ computer systems go down for weeks at a time?


One Response to “don’t bank on it: more about banking in Lebanon”

  1. Rami said

    You have to get used to it I think! I have an account at BLOM also, and was disappointed so many times because of their poor service (other banks are not better after all…)
    1. I applied for an internet card and they forgot to link it to my account. And you’re mistaken if you think they can simply fix their fault by linking an existing card to your account, because they can’t! you should apply for a new one..!
    2. I have my account in dollar with a working ATM card. and I recently created a sub account in lebanese lira, now I cannot reach that sub account UNLESS I create a new ATM card for it 😦

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