Banking in North Cyprus developed out of Turkish system on which North Cyprus has been recently much dependent and has been having close ties with. Since its independence in 1983 and due to the tourism and economy growth in last few years North Cyprus banks adopted, however, inevitable changes and a modern structured banking system. Besides Turkish-based and local Turkish-Cypriot banks, in North Cyprus operate affiliate branches of international banks such as HSBC. Most of the banks in Northern Cyprus are private. The Central Bank of the TRNC takes responsibility for monetary, credit and exchange policy, and acts as banker to the government. North Cyprus banks are generally open from Monday to Friday, except public holidays, between 08.00-12.00 and 14.00-16.00.
All types of bank services are provided in Northern Cyprus and they are flexible enough to satisfy the continually diversifying needs of the business community. In recent years banks in North Cyprus have expanded their activities beyond traditional banking and their services include insurance, leasing, hire purchase finance, factoring, mutual fund management, investment and consulting as well as custody and asset management services. They have also developed new products and services through electronic means or electronic access (online banking), using alternative distribution channels such as the internet, call centers, etc. Most of the banks are supplied with English speaking employees, the best chance to master language obstacle is in the foreign exchange section of the bank.
Banking in North Cyprus can seem quite difficult at first but once you see your options you will be more relaxed. Most expatriates seem to like HSBC due to their familiarity with it and brand name recognition. But there are other options that are just as reliable and trustworthy. Just remember to apply the same amount of skepticism here as you would else where . After all this is Northern Cyprus and things are more laid back but that still does not mean that you should bank your life savings at Uncle Toms First Mutual Bank.
Also please be advised that some banks will not accept cash that does not have a stamp from the Turkish Central Bank. They actually will accept it if you have an account with them but if you are a tourist its better to use the money changers or exchange houses. If you need to use the bank in order to make a deposit at the bank then swapping the money at a local exchange shop is your best bet. Another option that the bank may offer you is to photocopy every bill and then if found to be fake later they will contact you. Not really the best option. This is especially the case with US dollars and this extra security is instituted since most banks (branches) in North Cyprus do not have the proper equipment to identify said counterfeit bills. Exchanging all hard currencies in banks, exchange offices and in hotels, is possible. Many banks in North Cyprus have ATM'S (automatic teller machine), enabling you to draw foreign currency while you stay in North Cyprus . The currency of Northern Cyprus is New Turkish Lira (YTL).
Almost all cards are accepted in North Cyprus . Visa, MasterCard, and Discover cards are welcome at almost every shop and restaurant in Northern Cyprus and can be used in many ATMs to withdraw money (although bank charges may apply). However, as of late American Express cards have seemed to become pretty useless in North Cyprus . Only one or two banks have a deal with American express and as such only shops or restaurants that have that swipe machine will accept an American Express Card. Atleks Onder is one of the few shops that does accept this card. Only please note that the swipe machine is not at the main checkout register. If the checkout clerk does not know please ask them to try the one near the perfume/electronics section (it is on the right on your way out, by the carts). Applying for a card is a pretty hassle free process although depending on what type of card you apply for it can take up to a month for it to be delivered. In most cases these cards are sent here from Turkey . Locals can register with their ID cards but if you a foreigner you will need to present your passport when applying for an account. Please do not rely entirely on your credit cards as some establishments still do not have the facilities to accept them. Bring some cash with you. Crime rate in North Cyprus is almost at zero level. If money or other belongings are stolen, the case is most commonly related to tourists.
If you feel uncomfortable carrying large amounts of cash, then euro cheques and traveller cheques are accepted and easily exchanged in banks, exchange bureaux and hotels across North Cyprus . Cheque books are recommended to bring if you want to buy a property in North Cyprus.