Our Latvia offshore bank account page provides details on the Latvia banking system, and details on opening a bank account in Latvia. You will find details on the laws and regulations that govern the Latvia banking system, as well as a list of local and international banks that operate.
Latvia’s 2-tiered banking system began in 1988 when its first commercial banks were established. Prior to the break up of the Soviet Union, there were no private banks in any of the Baltic States. Since that time, the banking system, although suffering 2 crises, has developed well and offers a variety of services to its customers. The Central Bank of Latvia was founded in August of 1990. It is an independent bank that has the right to issue the national currency, supervise other banks and credit unions, and control the economy via monetary policy instruments, such as national interest rates. It is independent of the Latvian government and handles foreign currency.
The Latvian Banking system is supervised by the Financial and Capital Market Commission. The Commission’s main task is to protect the interests of investors, depositors and the insured, and to promote the development and stability of the financial and capital market. Previously,the supervisory function was performed by the Bank of Latvia. This change was mainly structural as now supervision of all the financial and capital market participants (issuers, investors, credit institutions, insurers, private pension funds, insurance brokers, stock exchanges, depositories, broker companies, brokers, investment companies and investment consultants) is centralized under the newly established Financial and Capital Market Commission. Banking supervision principles, laws and regulations transferred, these were developed when the Bank of Latvia supervised the banking sector in Latvia.
The Core Principles for Effective Banking Supervision, developed by the Basle Committee on Banking Supervision and published in September 1997, are an important and comprehensive international standard for effective banking supervision in Latvia. The principles have been designed in collaboration with a number of supervisory authorities throughout the world and comprise the expertise acquired in this field. The 25 principles form the basis for any effective supervisory system, and cover preconditions for effective banking supervision, licensing, prudential regulations and requirements, methods of ongoing banking supervision, information requirements, formal powers of supervisors and cross-boarder banking. Latvia was graded as “compliant” with 17 of the 25 principles and “largely compliant” with the remaining eight principles.
The number of commercial banks operating in Latvia exceeds twenty, which ensures a good choice in banking services. A number of foreign investors, including FöreningsSparbanken, SEB (Sweden), Nord/LB (Germany), Nordea (Finland) and Vereins- und Westbank (Germany) together constitute approximately 80% of the commercial bank capital in the country, bringing additional stability and customer reliability to the Latvian market. Only 8-10 banks operate as full-range banking service providers to both private and corporate customers. All the others have positioned themselves in certain niche markets with specialized services. In addition to an extensive network of ATM terminals, a number of banks also provide Internet banking and/or mobile banking services to their customers. The most popular brands of credit/payment cards in Latvia are Visa/Visa Electron and MasterCard/Maestro, however, most internationally used cards are accepted by banks and ATMs in Latvia. Additional corporate business services provided by commercial banks in Latvia include mergers & acquisitions, business advisory and privatization advisory.
List of banks currently operating in Latvia:
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