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Despite ‘unprecedented proximity’, majority of Jordanians excluded from financial services

By Bahaa Al Deen Al Nawas - Jul 03,2019 - Last updated at Jul 03,2019

AMMAN — Despite the massive spread of smartphones and e-applications in the Kingdom in recent years, which has allowed financial institutions to position themselves in unprecedented proximity to end-users, the majority of the population remains excluded from the formal financial industry, Central Bank of Jordan (CBJ) Governor Ziad Fariz said on Tuesday.

Fariz noted that the ratio of Jordanians who have access to formal financial services increased in the last seven years from 25 per cent of the population to about 40 per cent.

Speaking at the 6th Euromoney Jordan Conference, co-hosted with the CBJ at the InterContinental Hotel, the governor highlighted the bank’s efforts “to expand the reach of financial services to those belonging to the lowest income group, primarily women, youth and refugees”, through the launch of the national mobile payment switch, JoMoPay, and the online payment platform eFAWATEERcom.

The CBJ is keen on making Jordan a pioneer and hub for FinTech services in the region, Fariz said, referring to several initiatives and projects launched by the bank in this regard.

To foster progress, inclusion and innovation, the CBJ launched the national financial inclusion strategy, which was released in December of 2017, and the bank complemented it with establishing the fintech regulatory sandbox to foster and promote financial technology and entrepreneurship in the sector, according to Fariz. 

On another note, Fariz said the escalating geopolitical situation in the region, including the unfortunate conflict in Syria, placed Jordan under tremendous pressure, but the country was able to preserve economic stability thanks to “strong foundations built over the years on macroeconomic reform jointly driven by the public and private sectors, with continuous support from the international community”.

Fariz added that the government is trying to adopt innovative approaches to achieve better recovery, pointing as well to the Kingdom’s strong ties with donor states and institutions, placing it in a preferable position for foreign investments and collaboration.

In the upcoming stage, Fariz told the gathering, Jordan’s economic focus is set on the road map to energy self-sustainability and enhancing the productivity of the labour market, indicating the high rate of unemployment in Jordan, reaching 18 per cent.

The governor stressed the need for lowering dependence on traditional trade and capitalising on tech service that can be exported.

For his part, Arab Bank CEO Nemeh Sabbagh said that the emphasis of the conference is on digital economy, particularly in the financial sector and its stability and transformation, which provides a “fresh perspective on Jordan’s economic path”.

“Jordan is positioning itself as a regional hub for exporting services in such areas as IT services, call centres and back offices, in addition to engineering, health, education, logistics, business and legal services,” he said, adding that Jordan succeeded in attracting several global companies to open offices here and hire the available skilled Jordanians.

Euromoney is an organiser of conferences for capital markets and cross-border investment. The company has run financial conferences in more than 60 countries for over 30 years.

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