At independence, central banking functions were carried out by the Central Bank of the West African States (Banque Centrale des États de l'Afrique de l'Ouest-BCEAO), and commercial banking by branches of five French banks. On 1 March 1960, Guinea withdrew from the franc zone. The Guinean branch of the BCEAO was abolished, and the Central Bank of Guinea was established. Later that year, four of the five private banks were closed down, and the fifth was nationalized in 1961. All banking activities were taken over by the Central Bank, but by 1962 its functions were decentralized and three new state-owned banks were added.
The National Credit Bank for Commerce, Industry, and Housing, with branches throughout Guinea, handled all commercial banking and made loans to finance commerce, industry, and housing. The Guinean Foreign Trade Bank performed functions related to foreign trade. The National Agricultural Development Bank granted medium and long-term loans for agricultural development. There was also a National Savings Bank. All these institutions except the Central Bank were abolished in late 1985 and were replaced by commercial banks.
There are six commercial banks in Guinea, including the Banque Internationale pour le commerce et l'industrie de la Guinée (BICIGUI); the Societe Generale des Banques en Guinee (SGBG); the Banque Islamique de Guinee (BIG); the Unione Internationale des Banques en Guinee (UIBG); and the International Commercial Bank de Guinée (ICBG), which was launched in Conakry in early November 1996. All involve French or US participation. The government has offered for sale to the general public shares in the BICIGUI. The bank controls roughly 45% of the country's banking resources, supplying one-third of all credits to the private sector and up to 60% of those awarded for international trade. BICIGUI has 12 branches (3 in Conakry).
In 1997, due to financial instability and lack of capital, the government was considering making obligatory the direct transfer of public-sector wages and salaries to designated accounts within the commercial banks. New regulations were created to stabilize the banking system by 2000, but those reforms have been delayed, leaving the banking system in the same state.
The International Monetary Fund reports that in 2001, currency and demand deposits—an aggregate commonly known as M1—were equal to $287.1 million. In that same year, M2—an aggregate equal to M1 plus savings deposits, small time deposits, and money market mutual funds—was $353.6 million. The discount rate, the interest rate at which the central bank lends to financial institutions in the short term, was 16.25%.
Local currency may not be exported or imported. There are no securities exchanges in Guinea.