Saudi banking experts have claimed that the kingdom’s banking system is safest in the Arab world
Earlier this week, CNBC Arabia had reported that 5,000 fraud cases took place out of 1.3 million ATM cash withdrawals recently in the country. After this report, the experts have tried to restore confidence in the Saudi banking system by stating that its security had been lauded by the Financial Sector Assessment Program (FSAP), the International Monetary Fund and World Bank’s assessment of a country’s financial system.
According to Talat Hafiz, secretary general of the media and banking awareness committee of Saudi banks, “Saudi Arabia’s banking system is considered the safest in the Arab world. Saudi banks are applying the most well known international system to protect information and their databases”. Despite the huge annual transactions in Saudi Arabia, there are very few complaints in terms of credit cards, visa cards, online payments, or ATM cash withdrawals.” He further pointed out that the country topped the region for its fight against money laundering.
In most cases, the fraudulent activity came from online shopping, in particular by women shoppers. Banking experts have advised completing online transactions only with genuine operators and to be fully aware of the online process. Banking authorities need to conduct awareness campaigns to educate people about safe banking behavior.
However, the banking experts were uneasy with the idea of launching a single Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) banking system as this could expose it to security risks because of banking standards in other GCC countries. Banking security in other countries, such as Qatar and Kuwait, is not too strict and of particular concern if the system is integrated. The risk of security breach increases manifold as these countries host a huge expatriate population, who carry out a large number of online transactions.