Jordan, November 7, 2018
Website compares bank products to ease citizens’ access to finance

AMMAN — When looking for bank loans and other financial products, individuals who do not have a strong background in finance often find themselves compelled to go for 'whatever seems best', with no clear understanding of the intricacies behind their decision.

For Fadi Oweis, a Jordanian who was looking to buy an apartment in Amman after returning from the US with his family, the 'loan pursuit' was no different a journey.

“We started prospecting for loans with local banks to finance our buying but, despite being well educated and rather knowledgeable about the sector, we found it very stressful and confusing to go from one bank to another to find a suitable loan,” Oweis remembered, as he introduced the new e-platform he co-created to tackle these challenges.

The first comprehensive comparison website for bank products in Jordan, Amwalcom searches for and compares loans, credit cards and bank accounts for individuals.

Amwalcom (“Your Money” in Arabic) was officially launched on Sunday, under the patronage of Governor of the Central Bank of Jordan (CBJ) Ziad Fariz and Minister of Communications and Information Technology Muthana Gharaibeh, in the presence of Oasis500's Chairman Marwan Juma and Jordanian Information and Communication Technology Association's Chairman Bashar Hawamdeh.

Low levels of financial literacy lead to low financial inclusion rates, which is defined by the CBJ as 'the state wherein individuals and businesses have convenient access to and use affordable and suitable financial products and services — payments, savings, credit, transactions and insurance — that meet their needs, help improve their lives, and delivered in a responsible and sustainable way.'

According to a 2017 report by the CBJ, financial inclusion in Jordan reached 24.6 per cent of the adult population in 2016, with a gender gap standing at 53 per cent. As part of its National Financial Inclusion Strategy, the CBJ aims to increase the inclusion to 36.6 per cent and decrease the gap to 35 per cent by 2020.

Through its various services, which include awareness and analytical articles on financial topics of interest to Jordanians, Amwalcom aims to contribute to the national strategy, by promoting transparency while ensuring accessibility of financial information to all Jordanians in all governorates, according to the app co-founder Yara Zreikat.

She presented a variety of services and benefits offered by the site, including free tools such as a loan calculator, filtering results based on individual circumstances and comparing offers side by side.

'User fills out a simple application for the offers they select which will reach the bank for following up,' noted Oweis, who told The Jordan Times in a recent interview that “instead of having to go to each bank to learn about their interest rates and different offers, citizens can now have a look at different offers, and make informed choices with all the info in hand”.

He stressed the savings in terms of 'costs, time and effort'.

Amwalcom also allows banks to market their product range to a wider segment of users interested in banking products with a high conversion rate, Zreikat explained.

Following opening remarks by Juma and Hawamdeh, the event, which was held at The Tank-Umniah at the King Hussein Business Park, included a panel discussion titled 'Financial Inclusion in Jordan', with the participation of a number of experts such as Maha Bahou, CEO of JO-PACC, Tarek Akel, regional manager of the Egyptian Arab land Bank, and Salim Sawalha, assistant general manager at the Jordan Commercial Bank and Odeh Habash, among others.

The ceremony also witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Egyptian Arab Land Bank and Amwalcom, to add the bank’s products on the website.