Libya has been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the presence of ISIS, an ongoing humanitarian crisis and a long and brutal civil war. The Second Libyan Civil War officially ended in October 2020, and a provisional government established in March 2021, but sporadic violence amongst mercenary forces continues. Poverty and inflation rates are high, and Libyans lack access to basic needs such as food, water and healthcare. A mere 1.8% of the population has been vaccinated against the COVID-19 disease,1 and already-weak health infrastructure has been further strained. The economy plunged by 31.3% in 2020, and although the World Bank predicts a possible comeback of 67% in 2021,2 this will not provide Libya the structural reforms and aid it desperately needs.
As Libyan regulators, the private sector and international organizations seek to rebuild the North African country, initiatives must be grounded in digital transformation. Digital transformation will be critical in diversifying Libya’s oil-reliant economy, rebuilding in the wake of war and making progress towards the achievement of sustainable development goals. Although Libya’s fintech ecosystem is only just emerging, innovation in payments could bolster financial inclusion, especially for vulnerable groups like women, the elderly and displaced people. Cryptocurrency investment is popular in Libya, as in other fragile and conflict-affected states.3
This year, Libyan regulators are focused on forging international connections in support of digital transformation, AML/CTF and a biometric ID system. As Libya digitalizes, regulators must bolster national cybersecurity, as cyberattacks and hacking were used in the civil war to leak secret documents and spread misinformation.4 Strong partnerships between the public and private sectors will also be key in boosting digitalization, especially as private companies forge connections with foreign governments. In June 2021, chairman of the Libyan Telecoms Holding Company Faisal Ahmed Qarqab met with Egyptian Minister of Communications and Information Technology (ICT) Amr Talaat to establish a joint working team aimed at developing the Libyan telecom and ICT sector. The joint working team will spearhead projects related to digital transformation, digital infrastructure, digital skills and education, capacity building and the sector’s legal framework.5 Internet penetration has been steadily increasing since 2021, but still stood at a mere 21.76% in 2017.6
Financial Regulatory Authorities
The Central Bank of Libya is Libya’s central bank and primary monetary authority.
The Libyan Capital Market Authority regulates and supervises the financial markets and non-banking financial instruments.
The National Authority for Information Security and Safety is Libya’s data protection authority.
Policy, Laws and Regulations
Meeting on Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing, 22 August 2021
The European Union Border Assistance Mission in Libya (EUBAM) had a meeting with the Libyan Ministry of Interior’s Department for Combating Financial Crime to discuss improvements to the ministry’s anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing investigation techniques. Information exchange and data protection were also addressed.7
Libyan-British Cooperation in Cybersecurity, August 2021
Chairman of the Libyan Post Telecommunications and Information Technology Company (LPTIC) Faisal Gurgab met with British Ambassador to Libya Nicholas Hopton to discuss cooperation in cybersecurity, communications and technology. Libya hopes to benefit from British cybersecurity technologies and promote opportunities for British development and investment, alongside a return of British IT and communications companies to the country.8
1. “Coronavirus (COVID-19) Vaccinations.” Our World in Data, 14 September 2021. https://ourworldindata.org/covid-vaccinations?country=OWID_WRL.
2. “Libya's Economic Update — April 2021.” The World Bank, 02 April 2021. https://www.worldbank.org/en/country/libya/publication/economic-update-april-2021.
3. Harrison, Polly Jean. “Research Finds Cuba, Libya and Syria Comprise Top 10 Crypto-Loving Countries.” The Fintech Times, 15 February 2021. https://thefintechtimes.com/research-finds-cuba-libya-and-syria-comprise-top-10-crypto-loving-countries/.
4. Herbert, Matt. “Libya’s war becomes a tech battleground.” Institute for Security Studies, 08 October 2019. https://issafrica.org/iss-today/libyas-war-becomes-a-tech-battleground.
5. Burkitt-Gray, Alan. “Egypt offers to help Libya to rebuild telecoms services.” Capacity Media, 23 June 2021. https://www.capacitymedia.com/articles/3828908/egypt-offers-to-help-libya-to-rebuild-telecoms-services.
6. “Individuals using the Internet (% of population) – Libya.” The World Bank. https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/IT.NET.USER.ZS?locations=LY.
7. Zaptia, Sami. “EUBAM and Interior Ministry discuss money-laundering and financing terrorism.” Libya Herald, 23 August 2021. https://www.libyaherald.com/2021/08/23/eubam-and-interior-ministry-discuss-money-laundering-and-financing-terrorism/.
8. “Libyan, British officials discuss cooperation in cybersecurity technology.” The Libya Update, 29 August 2021. https://libyaupdate.com/libyan-british-officials-discuss-cooperation-in-cybersecurity-technology/.
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Last updated: November 2021