The Iraqi banks in the last decades were notorious for their bureaucracy. For example, Iraqis were unable to withdraw money from different branches of the same bank, due to the lack of an integrated computer network. Customers could only withdraw money through their account-holding branch during working hours. The notion of ATM machines, as used all around the world to provide customers with a number of services whenever and wherever needed, did not exist.
While major banks operating in the region are doing their best to accelerate the roll-out of banking services for the Iraqi citizens, there remain many challenges due to the lack of a banking network infrastructure to deliver transactions within Iraq and with the outside world.
Mobile satellite communication systems offer the opportunity to launch modern banking services in the Iraqi market quickly and effectively. These systems can easily link individual bank branches together, as well as integrating with international banking networks all over the world. Gill Govier, Director of Enterprise Solutions at Inmarsat, explains: “Despite their compact size, Inmarsat’s mobile satellite communication solutions offer quick and easy access to the Internet and private networks. Supporting the added security of virtual private network (VPN) technology, mobile satellite becomes an ideal solution for financial and banking institutions that aim to provide advanced services throughout Iraq. The use of satellite overcomes the lack of telecommunications infrastructure in the aggressive timescale required.”
Inmarsat has provided satellite-based communication technologies to the banking sectors in a number of countries worldwide as a substitute and complement for existing infrastructure. Recently its new Regional BGAN service won a top banking award – the Network Infrastructure (Retail and Wholesale Banking) award from the prestigious The Banker Technology Awards 2003. In the words of the judges, Regional BGAN demonstrated “its innovative approach to delivering high-speed connectivity to financial institutions wherever they may be in the world”.
Govier continued: ”Our award-winning Inmarsat Regional BGAN system can deliver to the banking industry instant, secure, reliable and fast networking capabilities. This means that modern networking services in Iraq do not have to wait for the rebuilding cycle of the country to be complete, but rather, be part of it.”
Inmarsat Regional BGAN is a wireless packet data service, based on Internet Protocol (IP), which offers mobile, high-speed access to the Internet and corporate computer networks via a small, lightweight and portable satellite IP modem. Regional BGAN is available in 99 countries, across the northern half of Africa, Western and Eastern Europe, large parts of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the Indian sub-continent, and throughout the Middle East. It is more than twice as fast as current terrestrial General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) offerings and users only pay for the amount of data sent and received, not for the amount of time online. This enables user to stay ‘always on’, only paying when they transfer data.
Govier explains that ATM systems highlight many of the capabilities of the Regional BGAN. For an ATM machine to process certain customer requests, it requires a connection with the control or operations centre in order to validate the transaction. Regional BGAN’s ‘always on’ nature provides an ideal solution, often in a better way than fixed lines. Govier added that Regional BGAN had decreased the need for physical infrastructure and provided banks, other financial services businesses and individuals with a fast, secure and reliable method to link remotely from major cities and small villages. Govier concluded: “Through the use of Regional BGAN, banks no longer need a terrestrial infrastructure to operate ATM services. In Iraq, customers could now begin accessing many of the same services taken for granted in other parts of the world from either fixed or mobile ATM solutions.”
Hisham Al-Jourani, an Iraqi businessman specialising in importing household electrical products and the owner of three Baghdad-based companies, said that Iraqi banks for the last two decades have been underdeveloped.” I think that most of us are waiting for this, the advanced banking services, to take shape, in order to facilitate business transactions with the rest of the world and streamline the construction process in Iraq,” he said.
Monday, September 1- 2003 @ 13:14 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.