Bank ABC begins first-ever digital operations in Tunisia
TUNIS - A bank in Tunisia is eyeing development of digital banking activities but officials said they are wary of red tape that could hinder its ability to develop e-banking operations.
The Arab Banking Corporation (Bank ABC), which has a region-wide financial network, began operations of the first digital bank in Tunisia as part of plans to generalise the shift to e-banking.
Ali Kooli, director-general of Bank ABC Tunisia, said: “The aim of opening a digital bank in Tunisia is to accompany clients and make aware of constant banking availability through a branch that is open 24 hours and has no gates, providing all electronic machines and computers to carry out banking operations.
“The idea is to have clients carry out all of their banking operations themselves. If this experience is successful, 18 similar branches will be opened, with a number of employees to help customers, if the need arises.”
Bank ABC has headquarters in Bahrain and operates branches in most Arab countries. The bank has been active in Tunisia for more than 25 years.
“We aim, in the short term, to launch a 100% digital bank so customers can carry out banking operations everywhere and anytime without the need for traditional means,” Kooli said.
Bank ABC's ambitions, however, could run afoul of Tunisian banking laws, which have no provisions for full e-banking operations. To open a bank account and do transactions, customers must physically go to bank branches to file appropriate paperwork.
Bank ABC will have to consider the digital gap that exists in banking services and the need to adapt available technologies to make banking operations more efficient and professional.
Kooli expressed “hope that the laws in Tunisia keep pace with the developments taking place and enable the opening of e-banking accounts.”
Bank ABC specifically looks forward to Tunisian government eventually implementing the state’s plans to digitise all administrative services announced a few years ago.
Oussama Zanati, a member of the board of directors of Bank ABC in Tunisia, confirmed that the digital banking application began in Bahrain at the end of November and was to expand to Jordan, Egypt and Tunisia.
Zanati explained that the Bank ABC’s “Ila” digital application is a model for the future of banking and of Bank ABC, which is working to keep up with technological innovations.
He added that the digital services are aimed mainly at younger customers and that the “Ila” application is characterised by lower cost, which allows the bank to give more incentives and greater returns to customers.
Bank ABC is a public joint stock company registered at the Bahrain Stock Exchange, with more than 1,300 shareholders. The main shareholders are the Central Bank of Libya and the General Investment Authority in Kuwait.
Bank ABC is one of the leading banks in the Arab region and operates through its banking network spread across the Middle East and North Africa, as well as Europe, Asia, the United States and Brazil.