PMA organizes workshop on Mobile Financial Services in Palestine

PNN/ Jericho/

Deputy Governor of the Palestine Monetary Authority (PMA), Dr. Shehadeh Hussein, inaugurated a two-day workshop on mobile financial services in Palestine at Oasis Hotel in Jericho. The workshop, which is organized by the PMA, inaugurated under the patronages of H.E. Prime Minister Dr. Rami Al Hamdallah, in participation from the Deputy Minister of Telecommunications and Information Technology, Engineer Suleiman Al-Zuhairi, and Chairman of the Board of Association of Banks in Palestine (ABP), Mr. Mohammad Al-Barghouti. The opening was attended by the Governor of Jericho, H.E. Engineer Majed Al-Fityani, and representatives of the Palestinian banking system, special lending institutions, mobile companies, internet-service providers and electronic payment service providers.

Dr. Shehadeh welcomed the attendees and conveyed the greetings of H.E. Governor of the PMA, Mr. Azzam Shawwa and his wishes for a successful workshop. Dr. Shehadeh expressed his delight at the convening of this workshop, which gains special significance at a time when the Palestinian people’s struggle persists in order to establish an independent State of Palestine with Jerusalem as its capital persists. Dr. Shehadeh thanked H.E. Prime Minister Dr. Rami Al Hamdallah for his support of the workshop. He also thanked the Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technology, represented by Deputy Minister Suleiman Al-Zuhairi, which fully cooperated through its team to make this workshop a success. 

Dr. Shehadeh said that the workshop is being held as part of PMA’s tedious efforts to promote and upgrade the banking sector in Palestine. He pointed out that the workshop will discuss the future of the mobile financial services in Palestine and hopefully develop an action plan with a time-schedule that outlines the steps for the providing such a service and making it widely available.

Dr. Shehadeh added that the PMA has made significant strides in the area payment system development, in general, having succeeded to launch Real-time Gross Settlement System (BURAQ). This system, he added, is a highly advanced and unique system, both regionally and internationally, as it is characterized with high efficiency and operates within a multi-currency environment, given the absence of a national currency. Furthermore, the PMA has implemented the national switch project, which is regarded as a main pillar for an open and secure infrastructure for retail payment using plastic payment cards. Dr. Shehadeh added that PMA efforts, in partnership with other stakeholders, are currently underway to implement the project of mobile payment and launch efficient, effective and secure mobile payment services.

Engineer Al Zuheiri conveyed the greetings of H.E. Prime Minister Rami Al Hamdallah and the Minister of Telecommunications and Information Technology, who were regretfully unable to attend the workshop due to prior commitments. Engineer Al-Zuheiri held to high regard the efforts made by the PMA to organize this event, in spite of challenges and hindrances, noting that mobile payment will cut down transportation burdens on citizens, thereby saving effort, time and expenses.

Al- Zuheiri noted that the valuable and outstanding effort expended by the PMA was in concert with efforts made by the Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technology, in partnership with several public, private and academic sectors, in order to develop electronic services.  Such efforts, he added, have specially focused on the process of electronic payment, being one of the most important pillars to launch electronic services in general. 

Engineer Al- Zuhairi assured all users of electronic payment services, saying the Ministry, with the support of its partners, has finalized the introduction and development of most of electronic security pre-requisites. As a result, a secure public network currently links all ministries; a national team is ready to respond to information security incidents; Information Security Policies have been approved; the Palestinian framework for information interchange has been endorsed to serve as a reference to all institutions and the public data transporter has been secured.

From his side, Chairman of the Board of Association of Banks in Palestine (ABP), Mr. Mohammad Al-Barghouti, expressed his gratitude to all the parties involved in the organization of this workshop, in particular H.E. Governor of the PMA, Mr. Azzam Shawwa, and the PMA team, who exert every effort to foster banking services and promote the know-how and competitiveness of the banking sector in a manner that is fit for people striving to earn their freedom. He also affirmed that the ABP team is making every effort, through banks operating in Palestine, and under the umbrella of the PMA and direct supervision of H.E. the Governor, to upgrade the banking sector’s infrastructure, such that it keeps pace with the technological developments in the area of secure electronic services.

Al-Barghouti pointed out that mobile payment services project is one of the projects that receives ABP support and encouragement, being in harmony with the ABP vision and mission, which seek to promote the Palestinian banking industry, in a manner that enhances the role of the banking sector in the national economy and its ability to spread banking literacy among ordinary citizens.

Assistant to the Governor for Financial Stability Affairs, Dr. Riyad Abu Shehadeh, explained that the stability of the financial sector in Palestine is the most prominent and first-priority for the PMA, as is the case with all central banks worldwide. Subsequently, the PMA has made laborious efforts to promote and enhance financial stability to standards attained by advanced countries. He added that PMA’s attention is mainly directed to ensure that the financial sector, in general, and the banking sector, in specific, is capable of operating and withstanding risks and the negative implications thereof on economic growth, and thereby ensuring these sectors fulfill their duties effectively and efficiently.

Dr. Abu Shehadeh added that the establishment of secure and effective payment systems strengthens financial stability in Palestine and promotes economic growth and development, as it constitutes the most important mean through which funds can be transferred between economic, financial and banking institutions, functions and activities. He pointed out that the mobile payment service project was an impressive step in that direction as a component of the national strategic plan to move towards electronic payments rather than cash.

Mr. Ragheb Budeiri, Director of the Development Projects Office, expounded on the objectives of project of the mobile payment service in Palestine. He pointed out that the project will contribute to reduce expenses and risks and promote trade through enabling a large number of mobile phone users to carry out purchasing transactions on daily basis using their mobile phones. Such a service, he noted, was faster, easier and safer in comparison with payment using cash. Moreover, it will positively influence financial inclusion.

Specialist John Russell delivered a detailed introductory presentation on mobile payment services, addressing several themes and subjects, including the parties involved in business models, settlement models and agent considerations.

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