His Excellency Mr. Azzam Shawwa, the Governor of Palestine Monetary Authority, opened workshop on the electronic checks and clearance system at the Nablus Businessmen Forum with the participation of the Head of the Forum Mr. Nasser Al Sawalhi and members of the Board of Directors and General Assembly of businesspeople and Nablus Mayor Mr. Adli Ya’’eesh. The Director of Public Relations and Communication Department at PMA Mrs. Irene Saadeh, the Director of Market Conduct Department at PMA Mr. Ali Far’oun, and the Director of the Payment Systems Department at PMA Mr. Riyad Awwad accompanied Mr. Shawwa to the workshop.
Mr. Shawwa stated in the opening remarks of the workshop how happy he was in the visit, which, according to Mr. Shawwa, was within the framework of PMA and the banking sector’s focus on staying in touch all the time with institutions and entities across the homeland. Mr. Shawwa expressed appreciation to the Nablus Businessmen Forum for organizing the workshop and the work of the Forum to serve businesspeople, traders, and the national Palestinian economy.
Mr. Shawwa said Nablus was one of the economically active districts where the rate of clients’ deposits constituted 13% of the total deposits at banks, totaling $1.5 billion at the end of June 2018 of the total bank deposits of $12 billion in the same period. The overall direct facilities in Nablus District hit approximately $966 million compared to overall direct facilities at banks of approximately $8.3 billion at the end of June 2018, according to Mr. Shawwa.
The national assessment of the risks of money laundering and terrorism financing has been recently completed. A comprehensive work plan will be implemented soon to sort out shortcomings and promote strength as shown in the national assessment in order to prevent exploiting Palestine for money laundering operations and financing terrorism, according to H.E. Mr. Shawwa.
Mr. Shawwa said that PMA designed new checks with integrated security and technical specifications as part of developing checks used by the Palestinian banking sector. The checks contain 13 security marks, which would have large impact on combating check counterfeiting and reduce losses from fraudulence of the banking and economic sector. They would also help in developing the electronic clearance system. Consequently, there was a drop in the value of returned checks for insufficient funds due to strict procedures of PMA. However, there are precautionary measures that PMA intends to adopt to reduce the risks of checks fraudulence.
Mr. Shawwa said “The Payments System Department develops several systems to move on from cash payments to electronic payments, which is in accordance with the strategy of PMA to develop payments systems. The electronic clearance system will be launched at the end of 2018 and the National Switch System will be expanded to include sales points across Palestineto enable people to use payment cards in all purchases without having to use cash. Work is underway on use payment service through mobile phones to enable users to use their mobile phones to pay and transfer small amounts of money.”
Mr. Shawwa explained that within the context of promoting financial inclusion a database of small and medium-sized enterprises was created. It included comprehensive data of all loans given to small and medium-sized enterprises in order to control and strengthen and build the capacities of such enterprises. New instructions will be published soon about procedures that enable entrepreneurs, handicraftsmen, and professionals of opening bank accounts in accordance with basic account instructions (bank account for every citizen.
The Head of the Nablus Businessmen Forum Mr. Nasser Al Sawalhi praised the work of PMA in developing the banking sector and maintaining its stability and soundness of its work and promote its role in economic development by giving facilities to traders and businesspeople.
The Director of Market Conduct Department at PMA Mr. Ali Far’oun briefed the workshop about returned checks and the precautionary procedures PMA tended to take to reduce the risks of returned checks. Mr. Riyad Awwad, Director of the Payment Systems Department, briefed the workshop about the electronic clearance system, which would be launched at the end of this year, and its impact on reducing the time of collection of checks, which would be on the same day and increase the cash turnover rate and enhance economic development.