Abdel Kareem Friehat, the head of operations and IT at Jordan Kuwait Bank

JKB Betting Big on Fintech

Rather than viewing growing interest in Fintech as a threat, many traditional high-street banks are trying to embrace the digital future.

Abdel Kareem Friehat, the head of operations and IT at Jordan Kuwait Bank, said his bank is investing heavily in developing new online products and services.

What types of fintech are proving to be most popular?

There is a huge growth in prepaid cards usage and we are working on a plan to double the existing number by the end of this year.

We are also working on a number of initiatives that will help Jordanians carry out all types of transactions in a very convenient manner. This includes an enhanced Internet and mobile banking system that allows customers to do all their banking services in addition to paying all types of bills and government payments, expanding our prepaid cards business to cover both individual and organizational use, and integration with mobile payment service providers to facilitate e-wallets for both banked and non-banked segments. We are also facilitating different types of payments made by government or NGOs to citizens and refugees using prepaid cards and virtual/wallet accounts.

But how do you square this with the fact that the majority of Jordanians still don’t have bank accounts?

It is true that the non-banked segment is still high in Jordan. But with the introduction of services like electronic bill payments, mobile payment services and e-wallets, as well as prepaid cards, there is a significant growth in electronic transactions and the transformation is actually happening.

How do you see fintech developing in the future?

The young generation is falling in love with electronic gadgets, especially smartphones. Fintech is the right solution for this generation to get high-tech financial services, and with the Big Data concept and social media integration we expect this segment to play a major role in promoting and utilizing Fintech services. Facebook banking and transfers, mobile payments in schools and universities, mobile payments for transportation, and person to person transfers using mobiles are some examples of Fintech services young people will love and utilize. The partial transformation is happing now but a full transformation is difficult even in developed countries as there will be a need for cash transactions.