E-banking to become regional norm within three years

Published March 21st, 2001 - 02:00 GMT

According to a leading Saudi Internet banking expert, Arab banks need to build knowledgeable human resources around Internet solutions and to take up the on-line challenge. 


Abdul Razzaq Al Saleh, head of Internet Banking at Saudi Arabia’s Arab National Bank, foresees that “on-line banking will become a regional norm within three to six years, and those who will not be ready to respond will be “at a serious disadvantage.” Al Saleh graduated from King Fahad University of Petroleum and Minerals with a degree in MIT. He spoke ahead of ABTEC 2001—the First Arab E-Banking & E-Security Summit, which is to take place this month in Dubai.  


The summit, held at Emirates Towers Hotel from April 8-9, is seen as the Arab world’s premier banking community gathering. It comprises a probing e-banking conference as well as a 600 square meter exhibition. More than 250 Arab, Islamic and international bankers are to expected to attend. Al Saleh is to address the importance of Internet banking and present a case study of alarabi-ebank – the first Internet banking solution to be introduced in Saudi Arabia—launched by Arab National Bank in February last year. 


“The new generation, the youth, and the PC/Internet literate customers received the service very well and encouraged such innovation,” Al Saleh said. “This segment is very demanding and usually compares our services with those offered in the States and Europe. Our Internet banking solution, alarabi-ebank, offers all the basic functions that you expect from Internet banking and answers all the main concerns of the user, but there is still a vast untouched area awaiting delivery through the Internet.” 


Al Saleh says most Middle East banks are focusing on building strategies towards their development of Internet banking. Al Saleh, however, warned it would be unfair to compare the Middle East to Europe or to the USA, which are ahead of the Gulf in terms of infrastructure, technology and maturity—and are at an advantage in terms of the vast number of Internet users. 


Al Saleh, a founder member of Arab National Bank’s Internet banking team, said though Arab banks are able to buy and implement the latest software solutions, their purchasing power will not resolve all the challenges of the on-line age. “Senior-level decisions call for an in-depth understanding of the implications of these technologies and their effect on shareholder expectations.” — (Albawaba-MEBG) 

© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)

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