“The Palestinian Banking Sector in its Arab Environment” Conference is Held in Jordan with Significant and Effective Participation of Palestine Monetary Authority
March 5, 2019
Jordan - Under the auspices of His Excellency Mr. Azzam Shawwa, the Governor of Palestine Monetary Authority and His Excellency Dr. Ziad Fariz, the Governor of the Central Bank of Jordan, the Union of Arab Banks holds today the Third Session of “The Palestinian Banking Sector in its Arab Environment” Conference “Fintech Innovation and the Future of Banking Services.” The two-day Conference is held at Kempinski Hotel – Dead Sea – in Jordan with cooperation between the Central Bank of Jordan, Palestine Monetary Authority, the Union of Arab Banks, and the Association of Banks in Palestine. Many bank representatives from Saudi Arabia, Oman, Iraq, Lebanon, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, and Palestine attend the Conference as well as bank representatives from Bulgaria.
The welcoming session of the Conference included remarks by the Director General of the Association of Banks in Jordan Dr. Adli Qandah representing Mr. Hani Al-Qadi, member of the Board of Directors of the Union of Arab Banks and Head of the Association. The session also included remarks by the Secretary General of the Union of Arab Banks Mr. Wissam Fatooh. Mr. Fatooh said the technological empowerment would lead to new work applications and reliance on electronic services would cause less use of banknotes and eventually use of digital money. This development should enhance financial inclusion and stability and provide banking services more appropriate to clients at lower cost; however, there are strategic risks related to bank structures and operational risks or regulatory dimension and risks resulting from lack of capacity on behalf of banks to ensue internal change, according to Mr. Fatooh.
Mr. Joseph Nesnas, member of the Board of Directors of the Union of Arab Banks and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Association of Banks in Palestine said in the opening remarks that the Conference was an opportunity to present the Palestinian experience and addressing priority issues. Mr. Nesnas said the Palestinian banking sector used financial technology; however, slowly and modestly, delivering services in payments such as invoice payment and internet and mobile phones payments as well as using services facilitating client’s identity such as iris recognition and fingerprints and finger vein recognition. Mr. Nesnas praised the Palestinian banking sector, which operated under complex situations.
Mr. Shawwa extended in a key speech in the Conference greetings of the Palestinian President His Excellency Mr. Mahmoud Abbas to the participants in the Conference. Mr. Shawwa also thanked His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan, the Jordanian government, and the Jordanian people for hosting the Conference, as well as the Union of Arab Banks for their initiative to enhance the Palestinian banking sector.
Mr. Shawwa said the Conference focused on the challenges facing financial service providers in light of acceleration in financial technology and innovation to assess experiences and define necessary steps to invest in and utilize technology in financial and banking services. This consist starting point for building comprehensive national strategic plan of clear vision progressing towards developing financial and banking industry using technology, and to lay foundations for real and unique partnership between Palestine Monetary Authority and the financial sector and the information technology sector to keep abreast of global financial developments and facilitate integration of Palestinian financial sector with global financial sector, according to Mr. Shawwa.
Mr. Shawwa said the focus of Palestine Monetary Authority on financial technology was based on understanding the significant role of such technology in life and as a tool of delivering financial services to society. It also enhances outreach and spread of financial services to all areas especially remote areas where it is difficult for traditional financial services to reach. Financial technology facilitates delivery of transfer, payment, and financing and investment and other financial services. It enhances the economic cycle and directly contributes to creating sustainable economic development. Financial technology is also used to develop and create new financial and banking services by encouraging innovations and develop entrepreneurial ideas and projects.
Mr. Shawwa called on the chairpersons of the boards of directors of banks to consider investment in information technology as priority in the banks’ development plans especially developing the business environment that was necessary to use advanced technology in developing financial services to promote opportunities to reach out to impoverished and marginalized communities and deliver financial services that suit their needs and to boost financial inclusion while protecting the rights of small consumers and customers.
Mr. Shawwa stated that social national responsibility promoted Palestine Monetary Authority to focus on such industry and to direct the financial sector and agencies under Palestine Monetary Authority’s supervision to contribute to realizing financial inclusion. Moreover, such responsibility supports our people’s resilience at home especially in areas mostly affected by the measures of the Israeli occupation. It is difficult to deliver traditional financial services and provide innovative financial services in these areas in line with the huge progress in this field globally especially that global investment in financial technology has been on the rise increasing from $928 million in 2008 to $4 billion in 2013 to $20 billion in 2015. This investment is expected to hit $46 billion in 2020 thanks to technological advancement and innovative financial products, according to Mr. Shawwa.
Mr. Shawwa pointed out to the roles of the private sector, business incubators, information technology, research centers, and universities to be foundations for financial technology industry making Palestine a pioneering regional center for developing and exporting such services, which would have strong impact on improving the economic situation in Palestine. The industries would also be digital financial channels to bring in investments and savings to be directed towards supporting the national economy and resilience of our people in the blessed homeland.
His Excellency Dr. Ziad Fariz, the Governor of the Central Bank of Jordan gave key speech praising the strong relationship with Palestine Monetary Authority and the Palestinian banking system and praised the Jordanian banking system.
Dr. Fariz called for keeping abreast of change in youth and future generation’s mentality to meet the needs of young entrepreneurs and deliver electronic financial services. Mr. Fariz also called for more productivity, competencies, and development and pinpointed the big challenges ensued by technology before central banks including regulations and laws that might assist developing financial technology and at the same time safeguarding the market from malpractice.
Dr. Riyad Abu Shehadah, Deputy Governor of Palestine Monetary Authority, headed “Development of Financial Technology and Anticipated Financial Impact on Financial Stability and Regulatory Risks” session. Dr. Abu Shehadah gave a speech on “Financial Technology in Palestine and the Strategic Vision of Palestine Monetary Authority.” The speech addressed the achievements of Palestine Monetary Authority in payments, activities, and strategic plans to shift to electronic payments services including allowing investment it this sector and draft appropriate legislations. The speech also addressed partnership with banks in developing infrastructure of retail payment systems and Palestine Monetary Authority’s focus on promoting innovative initiatives in the near future.
Mr. Issa Kassis, Governor Advisor for Strategic Planning and International Relations, briefed “The Role of Central Banks in Supporting Digital Transformation and Facing New Regulatory and Supervisory Challenges” session, headed by Mr. Hamood Sangour Al Zadjali, former Executive President, Central Bank of Oman.
The Conference will include in day two sessions on ‘Digital Technology and Financial Services Development” and “Impact of Emerging Technology Businesses on the Future of Financial Technology and Traditional Financial Institutions” and “The Role of Financial Technology as New Mechanism to Enhance Financial Inclusion and Support of Small and Medium Enterprises.” The Conference will also produce recommendations.