Strengthening its role as the representative of the Cypriot banking system over the years, the Association of Cyprus Banks became the leading voice of the banking sector in the country. Pointing out that the Association of Cyprus Banks is envisioned as “a platform for analysing industry issues and defining common strategies”, Director General Dr. Michael Kammas discusses goals, challenges and competitive advantages.
European Times: Could you please elaborate on ACB’s modus operandi?
Dr. Michael Kammas: Established in 1969, the Association of Cyprus Banks is the liaison body between the Cypriot banking community and all relevant decision-makers who impact banking, legal and regulatory developments.We present the banking industry views when legislative and other governmental policies on banking and financial issues are determined. ACB has 12 full members and one associate member, which hold €63 billion in assets and account for over 93% of the total deposits in the country. Our Association is a member of the European Banking Federation, through which we have access to relevant developments at the EU level. Our role is to study, discuss and monitor changes and international best practices, and assist in implementing those changes and transferring the knowledge to Cyprus.
European Times: What are the Association’s major goals and challenges?
Dr. Michael Kammas: The Association of Cyprus Banks is firmly dedicated to bringing the best knowledge and practices to our members and promoting their interests with governmental bodies, the House of Representatives, various Ministries, the media and most importantly the Central Bank of Cyprus. The Association also reviews national banking legislation and government decisions, evaluates the impact of their implementation, establishes common positions on behalf of its members, and cooperates with authorities to improve the institutional framework and establish financial and banking activities in line with EU rules and practices.
We live in a world that is changing rapidly and we must remain competitive, which is why the Association of Cyprus Banks encourages banks to achieve growth, and supports competition and digital innovation for the benefit of both banks and customers. Challenges include adjusting to new stricter supervisory and regulatory rules and meeting the need for new viable loans, which we try to fulfil through prudent lending. I can say that we managed to make a swift recovery in a relatively short period following the economic crisis of 2013. People’s confidence in the banking system is returning and the economy is growing.
European Times: What are Cyprus’s competitive advantages?
Dr. Michael Kammas: Our island offers many competitive advantages to those interested in working in or through Cyprus. Located at the crossroads of three continents, one of Cyprus’s main competitive advantages is its strategic location. Many people refer to Cyprus as EU’s eastern frontier. In addition, Cyprus offers highly educated multi-lingual workforce, excellent transportation and telecommunication systems, and one of the largest shipping centres in the world. Furthermore, we are now witnessing a huge potential in the energy sector.
European Times: What is the personal message?
Dr. Michael Kammas: The Cyprus banking sector achieved a swift recovery following the economic crisis of 2013. This helped the economy to regain stability and return to growth much sooner than the international lenders originally anticipated.The banking sector is focused on continuously supporting the Cypriot economy through new lending, especially to viable enterprises in traditional sectors as well as promising new ventures that generate new prospects for Cyprus.