14.06.2018

Paying by smartphone: digital change in Jordan

Depositing cash or paying bills: in Jordan, this is possible via app – and at the hairdresser. In particular, this helps the refugees living in the country and the (often poor) Jordanians without a bank account.

Image description: A GIZ employee shows the app to a woman in Amman.

Mousa Sughayer is a hairdresser – and has recently become a financial services provider. ‘I’ve opened accounts for 300 people from my neighbourhood; my oldest customer is 73 years old. For me, JoMoPay marks the beginning of digital change in Jordan.’

JoMoPay stands for Jordan Mobile Payment, which is a trailblazing international initiative that now makes bank transfers, money transfers or paying invoices possible via a smartphone app. The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH has been supporting the introduction of JoMoPay since 2015. On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), it is advising the Central Bank of Jordan and other institutions, organising information campaigns and has concluded a development partnership with a financial app provider.

Sughayer is one of around 350 agents whose networks have been and trained with GIZ's support. In his hairdressing salon, you can now open a financial app account, withdraw cash or deposit funds and then spend them digitally.

On one hand, this benefits low-income Jordanians. The financial app from development partner DINARAK already has around 77,000 customers. About half of the people in the country have no bank account, conduct financial transactions in cash and were previously dependent on money messengers such as bus or taxi drivers.

On the other hand, GIZ is working to ensure that people who have fled to Jordan can also conduct their financial transactions securely and cost-effectively via app. For Syrian refugees, opening a bank account in Jordan is currently almost impossible, but they are often dependent on money transfers from relatives. Experts from the federal enterprise are advising the Jordanian National Bank so that cross-border transfers – from the Gulf States, for example – are possible via smartphone in future, while at the same time ensuring consumer protection, regulation or anti-money laundering measures.

Mousa Sughayer is already convinced: ‘A year ago, I had to close my shop for several hours to pay bills at different places in the city. JoMoPay saves me this time, because the system is easy to use, too. I’m impressed, and I tell all my customers about it while I cut or shave their hair.’