DUSHANBE -- Tajikistan's National Bank says it will create a national processing center for all its operations involving credit cards and other banking services, rather than using banks located in foreign countries, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.
Such operations -- including the issuance of credit cards -- are currently handled by banks abroad, primarily in Russia.
Tajikistan National Bank First Deputy Chairman Jamshed Yusufiyon told RFE/RL on July 21 that the institution hopes to create the new processing center within 15 months.
He said the legal groundwork for the center is in place, the relevant documentation has been signed, and the central bank is currently resolving some technical problems.
Yusufiyon said the World Bank is helping Dushanbe to implement the project.
Once the center begins functioning, he said, it will substantially reduce the cost of money transfers, allow for direct payment of pensions and salaries to people's private bank accounts, and spur wider and more cost-efficient use of ATM machines.
An official at the bank Tajiksodirotbank, Farshed Nazarov, told RFE/RL that even fees for services between local banks are currently high because all transactions must be confirmed by foreign banks, which act as guarantors. As it stands now, he said, even if someone wants to withdraw cash from a bank machine, the transaction must be approved by a bank in Moscow.
When the project was first unveiled last month, the National Bank hoped the national processing center would be operating within six months. But in light of a shortage of qualified specialists, the bank decided to organize three training workshops for its staff, which has delayed the start of the center's operations.