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Mobile wallet to bring financial services to the unbanked — CBJ

By Mohammad Ghazal - Jan 19,2016 - Last updated at Jan 20,2016

AMMAN — The use of mobile devices as a tool for making money transfers, cashing out money from ATMs and even paying for bills and services is expected to increase greatly in the near future, officials and experts said Tuesday.

“The entire ecosystem in Jordan for using mobile wallets is now complete and these services will help reach unbanked Jordanians,” Maha Bahou, executive manager of the Domestic Payments and Banking Operations Department at the Central Bank of Jordan (CBJ), said at a press conference to launch Umniah’s "Mahfazti” mobile wallet for financial services. 

In Jordan, where some 75 per cent of the population is unbanked, the potential is huge for the adoption of such services, especially since making transfers using such services is cheaper than making transfers via banks, said Bahou, who is also a member of the Jordan National Payment Council. 

She added that “opening mobile wallets” with telcos is easier than opening accounts with banks.

“We took several measures to ensure that these services are safe and there are several security layers to earn users’ trust and confidence to facilitate the rollout of these services,” the bank official stressed.

“There are no branches for banks in remote areas and villages, and it is unfeasible for banks to open branches in such areas, but residents of these areas have mobiles and can use them to make transfers and pay for their needs,” she explained.

According to Bahou, mobile wallet users will be able to use their wallets to pay for utility bills and other government services starting from the end of February.

Umniah CEO Ziad Shatara said mobile wallet users can withdraw cash from any of Umniah’s branches or any ATM.

Mobile wallet services, he said, are expected to witness “major” take-up in light of the high mobile penetration in Jordan, which, according to the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission, reached 159 per cent at the end of September, with some 13.1 million active mobile subscriptions.

“Users need a basic mobile to have mobile wallets. They do not need an Internet connection or smartphone,” said Shatara.

He added that the service is launched under the supervision of the CBJ and in accordance with its regulations in this regard.

Umniah's Mahfazati service will be implemented in two phases. The first phase will encompass secure transfers through CBJ systems, with low transfer fees, enabling subscribers to control and manage their expenses and receive financial reports on their payments. 

 

The second phase will allow subscribers to carry out financial withdrawals. 

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