Banking system aims to make sure young Jordanians are included

Approximately 67% of Jordanians older than 15 reportedly do not own an account that provides them access to the formal financial system.
Saturday 03/08/2019
A general view of the Central Bank of Jordan in Amman, July 2. (Reuters)
Exploring digital solutions. A general view of the Central Bank of Jordan in Amman, July 2. (Reuters)

AMMAN - An initiative has been introduced in Jordan to serve young people without an account in the financial system to help it become more inclusive.

Learn, Inspire, Network and Create (LINC) is a subsidiary of Cairo Amman Bank designed to encourage young people and women to be part of the banking sector. Its main target segment is people aged 18-40, including students, young adults and the tech-savvy.

Jordan’s Financial Inclusion Strategy 2018-20 stated that approximately 67% of Jordanians older than 15 do not own an account giving them access to the formal financial system; 38% of adults are excluded from formal financial services and 24.8% of adults are excluded from formal and informal financial services.

Kamal al-Bakri, CEO of Cairo Amman Bank, said LINC aims to involve young people more by creating tools that cater to their needs.

“LINC is a digital lifestyle bank designed to serve youth and tech-savvy individuals by providing digital banking solutions in addition to non-financial, value-added services,” he said.

“The value proposition of LINC is to create efficiency and convenience among customers during their everyday life and empowering them in every step of the way whether they are just starting out in life or looking for their next career move.”

“The non-financial solutions we have come up with include partnerships, integration and embedding of third-party services in LINC self-service, mobile, web and ATM channels. Third-party services will offer educational content, seminars, workshops, local news covering events and cultural activities, in addition to offering career and entrepreneurial support services,” he said.

Jordan’s Telecommunication Regulatory Commission, an independent body that regulates telecommunications and information technology sectors, said there were approximately 9.1 million internet subscribers in Jordan in 2018 compared to 8.7 million in 2017 and up from 127,300 users in 2000. Jordan’s population totals 10.5 million people and is one of the youngest in the world, with 63% of Jordanians under the age of 30.

Approximately 90% of Jordanian households had a smartphone, 89% had an internet subscription and 33% had computers in 2018, the Ministry of Digital Economy and Entrepreneurship said.

“Jordan is one of the highest countries in the region regarding internet penetration,” Bakri said. Most of the target segment was born with internet connectivity and smart devices being available but this segment is the most underserved with financial products and services.

“The need for an adaptive and embedded banking has become a daily necessity for the youth of today. With digital financial wallets being available in Jordan, a light-weight digital bank is the most logical choice to tackle this rising challenge.”

He said focus group studies indicated young people in Jordan prefer using technology as a social hub and networking but also formal requirements. “This was the reason behind the look and feel we have today for LINC,” Bakri added.

A survey by the Jordanian Ministry of Digital Economy and Entrepreneurship stated that 98.5% of individuals aged 5 and older access the internet through smartphones or tablets while 48.7% of individuals use the internet at their homes.

The bank signed agreements with major universities in Jordan before inaugurating LINC and about 250,000 students have enrolled in the programme.

“There are a few other programmes that serve youth in Jordan, most of the banks that have such programmes targeted students or youth with an age range 18-25,” Bakri said. “While their offering is part of the bank’s initial products and services, LINC is a stand-alone concept offering not just products but a whole new lifestyle for youth and digital financial solutions and value-added services.”

Of course, as any programme that involves young people, there are issues.

“As the population of university-enrolled youth transition to the workforce, the demographic presents a unique opportunity for Jordan but this does not come without its challenges. The population must be fully skilful to tackle the ever-growing challenges of today’s market needs,” he said.

“This is where LINC will come in. This is why we created the four main pillars of LINC to help combat this challenge through Learn, Inspire, Network and Create.”

Developed to be Jordan’s first youth bank, LINC will soon be unveiling additional offers. LINC is working with local and international third-party suppliers.

“Our Value Partners are here to fill in the gaps with their value-added offerings, ranging from discounted course offering, cultural and events ticket purchases and coverage to job applications and start-up funding,” Bakri said.