Tag Archives: georgia

What Bank to Choose for a Small Business in Georgia?

This blog post is destined primarily to foreigners when they shop for a bank for their small business in Georgia. It lists resources to help you make your own research and decision.

The largest commercial banks in Georgia by total assets reported on 31/03/2015 are(1):

  1. JSC Bank of Georgia, http://www.bankofgeorgia.ge/ (7 786 million GEL)
  2. JSC TBC Bank, http://www.tbcbank.ge/ (5583 million GEL)
  3. JSC Liberty Bank, http://www.libertybank.ge/ (1 530 million GEL)
  4. JSC Bank Republic, https://www.br.ge/ (1 297 million GEL)
  5. JSC ProCredit Bank, http://www.procreditbank.ge/ (1 134 million GEL)
  6. JSC VTB Bank Georgia, http://www.vtb.ge/ (1 124 million GEL)
  7. JSC Cartu Bank, http://www.cartubank.ge/ (920 million GEL)
  8. JSC Basisbank, http://www.basisbank.ge/ (674 million GEL)
  9. JSC KOR Standard Bank, http://www.ksb.ge (641 million GEL)
  10. JSC Privatbank Georgia (583 million GEL). Privatbank Georgia, subsidiary of the Ukrainian bank PrivatBank, was since acquired by JSC Bank of Georgia(2).

State of the banking sector in Georgia

Georgian banks are doing OK despite some issues affecting the country’s economy as a whole (high cost of credit, high rate of dollarization of the economy, etc.). That’s in essence the conclusions of a detailed report(3) of the Policy Institute of the International School of Economics (ISET) about the Financial Soundness Indicators (FSI) for Georgia.

The overall landscape may change, and while unlikely to affect your business directly, the “Law on the National Bank of Georgia” of July 2015 which strips the National Bank of Georgia of some of its banking supervision functions sparked a ongoing debate(4).

For reference, the website of the National bank of Georgia is https://www.nbg.gov.ge and the page for consumers is https://www.nbg.gov.ge/cp(5).

640px-National Bank of GeorgiaThe headquarters of the National Bank of Georgia(6).


All of the main banks’ websites are in English and Georgian. VTB Bank Georgia also maintains a version of its website in Russian. Customer service representatives will help you in Georgian or English. In practice, Russian-speaking customers will be served in that language at most banks, but this is worth checking.

Fees, Multi-Currency Accounts, Online Banking…

Browse the banks’ websites and visit them to confirm your understanding of their respective fee structures. Direct access to the fees for each bank (when such pages are available, or corporate customers’ homepages in other cases):

The legal currency of Georgia is the lari (GEL) and all payments in Georgia are made in GEL (typically at the day’s rate of the National Bank of Georgia if the amount is quoted in another currency). Opening a multi-currency account is easy: the most common currencies are GEL, USD, EUR and sometimes GBP.

Online banking is available for most banks. The websites of the 9 banks listed above also include “branches and ATMs locators”.

For foreigners: currency conversion, international bank transfers

Currency exchange rates at street booths offer better rates than those at commercial banks. For larger sums or currency exchange through online banking, you might want to stick with your bank and thus check their conditions and commissions for this service. The excellent Lari Explorer of Jumpstart compares the historical rates currency exchange of the 4 largest commercial banks(7).

International bank transfers can cost dearly. Check the rates as some stand out. For example, TBC has a competitive cap on the fees for transfers made by individuals to other banks, including abroad (about 15 EUR). Other banks may lure customers with attractive packages (for students for example), only for these to discover high hidden fees. Check online and check again with a sales representative at a branch.



Notes and Sources:

(1): Rating of Georgian Commercial Banks, May 11, 2015, http://cbw.ge/banking/rating-of-commercial-banks/. Please note that JSC Bank of Georgia is a commercial bank. It should not be confused with the National Bank of Georgia.

(2): http://expressbank.ge/ge/bank-of-georgia-and-jsc-privatbank-join-statement (Georgian)

(3): http://www.iset-pi.ge/images/Projects_of_MPRC/Financial_Soundness_Report.pdf. Pages 1-3 for the Executive Summary and page 57 for the Conclusion.

(4): http://dfwatch.net/constitutional-court-suspends-new-bank-supervision-agency-38591 (October13, 2015) and http://factcheck.ge/en/article/the-parliament-of-georgia-took-the-recommendations-of-international-organisations-in-account-whilst-adopting-the-law-on-the-national-bank-of-georgia-2/ among many others.

(5) List of commercial banks operating in Georgia: https://www.nbg.gov.ge/index.php?m=403&lng=eng. Consumers’ page: http://nbg.gov.ge/cp/index.php. Statistics of the National Bank of Georgia: https://www.nbg.gov.ge/index.php?m=304&lng=eng.

(6): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bank_of_Georgia_headquarters

(7): http://feradi.info/en/visualizations/lari-explorer?category=economy_business&view=interactive

Public transport maps and schedules for buses and minibuses in Tbilisi

I recently participated to a small workshop organized by a government agency to brainstorm useful services for tourists, visitors and foreign residents in Georgia. Most of the participants to that workshop had spend 6 months or more in Georgia but, together with a friends, we were surprised to see that not all of them knew about the official online websites for bus and minibus services in the capital.

Autobuses – http://transit.ttc.com.ge (previously http://transiten.ttc.com.ge)

The website of the “Tbilisi Transport Company” has a useful Journey Planner, route schemes and timetables (under the menu Timetables in the left column) and real-time data. The Bus in Realtime option gives you the location of buses along each line of the network, and the Stop Board Info shows you the expected waiting times at any of the bus stops (particularly useful to know when to leave your building and minimize your waiting time at the stop).

The journey planner information and real time data are shown on maps. Data entry uses addresses or the stop number (every bus stop has a unique identifier). Zoom and scroll to find the number of your departure and arrival stops on the map, then input those numbers in the journey planner to plan your trip.

Tbilisi_public transport network_bus stop and stop board

Pictured: bus stop in Shindisi village on the outskirts of Tbilisi. Notice the electronic LED board with waiting times. The other sign tells you to send an SMS to 93344 with the stop number (here 2885) in order to receive an SMS with the expected waiting time until the next bus.

Minibuses – http://tm.ge

This website is the public face of the Tbilisi Microbuses Limited Liability Company (შპს “თბილისის მიკროავტობუსის”). It has an excellent interactive map to figure out your way around town with marshrutkas (маршрутки) – the Russian name for minibuses. On the main page, click on “Eng” for English, choose the menu and sub-menu Routes > Search for Routes, click on “Eng” again and then click on your departure and arrival point on the map to find out the best minibuses between the two.

Unfortunately, those two websites aren’t integrated yet but with a bit of practice, the many hubs from which users transfer from minibuses to the metro or to autobuses become quite obvious (Baratashvili street, Didube station, etc.).

You have to pay the fare when you getting onto the bus but pay the driver of the minibus only when you get off the vehicle. Both buses and minibuses accept the “Metromoney” (მეტრომანი) prepaid card of the subway network. Typical fares are 50 tetri for a bus ride (0.50 GEL) and 65 to 80 tetri for a minibus ride. You won’t have to pay again if you transfer between two buses, from a bus to a metro or vice versa within an hour and a half.


Reference: more information about the public transport system in Tbilisi (Georgian), http://www.momxmarebeli.ge/?menu=73&rec=152

Translation Services in Tbilisi (1/2)

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Translation Getting it right buying translation-cover

A Look at Best Practices

This article is the first of two on the topic of translation services in Georgia. Whether for the translation of an official document like a passport, that of a website or a contract, knowing where to source good quality translation services in Tbilisi can be tricky if you don’t have a recommendation.

In this first part, we’ll be looking at a pearl: the “Getting it Right Guide: A buyer’s guide to sourcing and using translation services” published by 15 professional associations of translators(1). The guide is now available in 11 languages(2), among which American English as well as English (and those do differ on details reflective of the respective cultures of the United Kingdom and the United States).

This guide will take you way beyond the usual translation blunders posted on social media. We particularly liked the distinction “for publication” and “for information”, the former adding more attention to style and culture-bound clichés than the latter. Even typography conventions vary from language to language. The added cost and proofreading steps of a translation “for publication” may well be worth it if you’re about to publish your company’s website in another language to enter a new market.

The guide reviews the whole process of getting a document translated. Have you really trimmed it so that only relevant sections are translated? Can you use pictures instead of text? Can you provide a glossary of essential terms in the context of your company or line of business?

Considering the publishers, it’s not surprising that “Getting it right” warns you against the risks of using language students or translating software to get it done. Overestimating one’s bilingualism (not a guarantee of written fluency or skill in translation) is also a common pitfall, but rather to proscribe these means, the guide explains the risks you expose yourself to.

“Welcome an inquisitive translator” is yet another piece of advice that translators themselves would sometimes better keep in mind, and if your translator doesn’t ask, tell him: a speech isn’t a website and a sales brochure isn’t a catalog entry. You want a “foreign-language version with maximum impact for that particular audience and medium”(3).

The guide concludes that getting involved is the surest way to make sure you make the most out of your time and money.


(1) Institute of Translation & Interpreting, www.iti.org.uk
American Translators Association, www.atanet.org
Asociación Española de Traductores, Correctores e Intérpretes, www.asetrad.org
Associazione Italiana Traduttori e Interpreti, www.aiti.org
Assoziierte Dolmetscher und Übersetzer in Norddeutschland e.V., www.adue-nord.de
Bundesverband der Dolmetscher und Übersetzer e.V., www.bdue.de
Bandalag þýðenda og túlka, www.thot.is
Japan Translation Federation (JTF), 日本翻訳連盟, www.jtf.jp
Japan Association of Translators (JAT), 日本翻訳者協会, www.jat.org
Союз переводчиков России, www.translators-union.ru
Syndicat national des traducteurs professionels, www.sft.fr
Sintra Sindicato Nacional Dos Tradutores, www.sintra.org.br
Abrates Associação Brasileira de Tradutores, abrates.net.br
Panhellenic Association of Professional Translators, Πανελλήνια Ένωση Επαγγελματιών Μεταφραστών Πτυχιούχων Ιονίου Πανεπιστημίου, http://www.peempip.gr

(2) The guide is available at http://www.iti.org.uk/about-industry/advice-buyers/getting-it-right in 11 languages at the time of writing: French, American English, Brazilian Portuguese, English, German, Greek, Icelandic, Italian, Japanese, Russian and Spanish.

(3) Page 14 of the American-English guide published in 2012.

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