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If I look at the currency exchange rates published by the National Bank of Belarus or check the exchange rates used by VISA, €1 is currently about BYN3.40.

Almost all other sources for currency exchange rates like e.g. xe.com, Google Finance or Yahoo Finance give an exchange rate of about €1 to BYN2.75.

I am aware that in some countries you will find both official and black market exchange rates, but in such cases, the official rate usually values the local currency higher than the market rate. In this case, it is the other way around, the National Bank values the ruble lower than what is reported by other sources.

Is there an explanation for this situation?

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  • Visa has risks in their business that they feel make the BYN worth less. Not a lot of visitors, much risk of being cut off are two I’d imagine.
    – Jon Custer
    Aug 18, 2023 at 14:08
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    Why would it be worth more here, then?
    – alamar
    Aug 18, 2023 at 16:20

1 Answer 1

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If you actually try to send (or receive) BYN on XE.COM, the option is simply not available. Same with wise.com (née transferwise.com).

Belarus is under various US and EU sanctions - for example the EU prohibits transactions with the Belarus central bank, so even though the CB may set rates by auction vis-a-vis a basket of currencies (USD/RUB/CNY) that does not mean that those rates are accessible to everyone.

You'll probably find similar anomalies with currencies of other countries that are either under severe sanctions, at war or who have capital controls. For example, Wise will not allow UAH transactions and sending money in VND only works in one direction.

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  • I wonder why they still publish those rates and how they are calculated.
    – alamar
    Aug 18, 2023 at 18:02
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    It's probably related to the CB auctions, and maybe useful for economists but not so much for travel. Even more easily traded currencies such as VND have wide spreads between buy/sell cash, for example one local place will give me 17,716 dongs for a Canadian dollar, but if I'm trying to sell my dongs I'll need 23,217 of them to purchase one loonie. Aug 18, 2023 at 18:19
  • I would expect such spread for this exotic pair.
    – alamar
    Aug 18, 2023 at 18:26
  • CAD is very liquid compared to VND. Aug 18, 2023 at 20:42
  • This has nothing to do with a wide spread between buy and sell rates. I paid BYN with a card issued in € and got an exchange rate og 3.40. The other way around, it would have been 3.43 if I remember correctly (VISA's currency converter is currently not working). The ruble is a relatively stable currency. Aug 18, 2023 at 22:58

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