His Excellency Mr. Azzam Shawwa, the Governor of Palestine Monetary Authority, met today at his office in Ramallah with Mr. Basam Khalifah, First SWIFT Accounts Manager for the Middle East and Palestine Officer at the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT). This is the first visit to Palestine by senior SWIFT officer. Mr. Shawwa praised the role SWIFT played and the services it provided to the banks that operate in Palestine as main network of payment services system of money transfers in Palestine among banks and SWIFT’s efforts to protect information security and to prevent fraud. Mr. Shawwa said PMA trusted SWIFT’s speedy, reliable and secure services, which enhanced trust in the banking system in Palestine.
Mr. Basam Khalifah praised the advanced level of PMA and the banks that operated in Palestine with respect to their commitment to security controls and standards, their advanced understanding, dealing, and applications, which reflected the capacities of their human resources and skills in information technology despite the difficult circumstances the Palestinian territories underwent and inability to organize specialized training courses and workshops. He stated that Palestine had registered noticeable progress in commitment to SWIFT’s requirements and developed infrastructure compared to neighboring countries especially after the self-attestation process.
PMA organized workshop for SWIFT users in Palestine at PMA’s headquarters in Ramallah. Mr. Basam Khalifah led the workshop, which addressed protection of clients. SWIFT officers at the banks that operate in Palestine including security and information technology officers and banking operations’ officers and compliance officers and a number of PMA’s employees participated in the workshop.
Mr. Riyad Awwad, Director of the Payment Systems Department at PMA, started the workshop with the SWIFT Users Officer in Palestine. They welcomed the participants in the workshop and thanked Mr. Basam Khalifah for his efforts and visit to Palestine and the services to the Palestinian banking system with respect to financial correspondence through SWIFT network. Mr. Awwad said the workshop was among the interests of PMA’s senior management and focus on implementing the most recent security practices and controls to safeguard financial operations and bank transactions especially in light of increasing cyber crimes, which showed potential shortfalls in security of local banks and required cooperation among financial institutions to combat threats since the security of the payments systems is everyone’s responsibility.
Mr. Basam Khalifah delivered detailed explanation of SWIFT’s history since foundation and the reasons for such foundation and need for such non-profit Society owned by banks to deliver financial correspondence and exchange of secure, effective and organized payment orders. SWIFT is located in Brussels. Mr. Khalifah addressed SWIFT’s objectives and strategic plans as well as the benefits gained by the infrastructure of the national payments system worldwide after adopting SWIFT as key system for financial transfers. He also talked about SWIFT’s work to safeguard information security and combat fraud.
The workshop addressed several technical, operational, and supervisory issues relevant to SWIFT’s system. The focus was on basic security controls relevant to SWIFT, which will be obligatory to all SWIFT users. The workshop also addressed educating SWIFT users on how to uncover and combat cyber fraud, isolation SWIFT network, restrict access of users, respond to exposing security incidents, and using tools that allow monitoring payment processes.
SWIFT requested its members to submit detailed certificate of their compulsory controls by end of 2017, which was part of SWIFT”s executive strategy.
The workshop included debates among participants who said they were happy to have such workshop and requested more similar workshops for their importance in protecting the financial system in Palestine.
Mr. Khalifah thanked His Excellency Mr. Azzam Shawwa and PMA’s team for the chance of visiting Palestine and organizing SWIFT’s operations workshop and facilitating its success. This was the first time a specialized workshop of this level was organized in Palestine. PMA and all banks that operate in Palestine are SWIFT’s members. BORAQ instant electronic reconciliations system, which PMA operates and banks use, relies on using SWIFT MT103 messages of personal wire transfers, MT102 for multiple personal wire transfers, and MT202 for bank transfers. The messages have high standards of efficiency, security, and effectiveness since they relay of coding and decoding and users’ authorization. This reduces operational risks that accompany wire transfers.