Mr. Ali Hussain Muneam CEO
Karrada, Baghdad, Iraq, 24th Feb 2023 – Please brief us about your organization’s history highlighting its inception and initiation.
Bahaa Abdulhadi is the founder & chairman of International Smart Card Group of companies (ISC Group). He has innovated the widely successful QICARD payment scheme and has initiated several other social initiatives to serve all segments of society in Iraq. ISC a Semi-government Company started in 2007 (joint venture between the Private and Government sector), is represented by a privately held company (Iraqi Systems for modern technology LLC) and the government sector, represented by the two largest government banks in Iraq, Rafidain and Rasheed Banks. As the leading and premier FinTech Company in Iraq, ISC transformed the Iraqi market by providing simple, easy, affordable and efficient means of financial inclusion, especially through the leading local scheme account and card brand Qi (Pronounced Key). ISC contributed immensely to financial inclusion in Iraq by enrolling 9M+ citizens, opening their accounts and issuing cards, thus transforming the country from a mere 5% banked to a 34%+ banked population. Today ISC has more than 1,000 employees who are trained to provide network and channel support, customer service, and to run smooth operations throughout the country. ISC is managed by a Local and International team of dedicated professionals specializing in Banking & Finance, Management and Technology.
2. How is your organization driving the financial inclusion in the Iraqi economy?
Iraq is an emerging market where over 70% of the adult population is unbanked. The government is trying to comply with international regulations, creating better transparency and eliminating a lot of overheads from fraudulent/ghost employees. Given this premise, the introduction of biometric cards gave the citizens a sense of comfort and security, and in addition, gave them nationwide access to formal financial networks. With 10 million+ cards issued and a network of 20,000+ point of sale terminals, we are providing Iraqi nationals access to the formal banking system. Our technology has helped the government bank to distribute small loans Scheme (Health, Education) by disbursing over USD 4 billion USD, benefiting 1,000,000 citizens. Our Qi Aqsati (BNPL) purchase funding scheme has disbursed over USD 1.2 Billion, benefiting 311,000 citizens. We are working towards making Iraq a cashless economy by providing secure, trustworthy and low-cost services targeted towards the unbanked. In addition to financial inclusion, we have been actively involved in social responsibility activities through our joint initiative between International Smart Card and the Ministry of Migrants to distribute humanitarian aid to internally displaced refugees in Iraq, using biometric identity-based smart cards. Through this initiative, we have distributed USD 1.4 billion in relief funds to 900,000 refugee families. Our efforts were appreciated and recognized for which we were awarded the Sesame award in 2015 from Cartes Paris.
3. What are your unique selling products and services? Also highlight your geographical presence.
Our flagship product is QI Card which is a local payment scheme that uses biometrics as a verification method and is enabled with a multi-biometric deduplication engine to eliminate ghost entries and prevent identity thefts. In addition to being a local scheme, the QI Card is compatible with international payment schemes like MasterCard and Visa. Our state-of-theart technology allows us to issue a new Qi card to users in less than 5 minutes. The Qi Card eco-system has several components to enable businesses and provides value-added services for consumers and merchants, like:
•Aqsati (BNPL) – to facilitate merchant-funded loans •Fawri (Loan Management System) to facilitate instant loans, personal loans and other cash loans •Payroll system to calculate and process salaries and cash disbursement through secure automated process •Tasdeed: Bills & fine collection services to enable Government & Private institutions to collect their dues & bills •Acquiring Omi-Chanel to enable merchants in Iraq to accept payment using different channels (POS, QR , Web sites and Biometric payment)
4. Your Biometric Debit Cards have gained a good traction. What were the thoughts behind it?
It was a significant achievement in an environment where everything was manual and cash-based, there was no core banking, and citizens were worried about the safety of their money. We wanted to provide people with convenient but highly secure access to their money and hence launched the biometric registration and verification process to provide the best possible safety to our customers and keep the fraudulent actors away.
5. What other updating and advancements are in the pipeline that the consumers can benefit from?
To include a wider segment of customers with our offering, we are plaining to expose our platform as an online sandbox for entrepreneurs and start-ups to enable them to build their products and services on top of our ecosystem. This sandbox will be equipped with detailed documentation and a dedicated support team to provide all required training and explanations for the developers in the early stage. ISC will certify all approved projects, provide sponsorship, and fund the start-ups till their projects start generating revenue.
6. (To the CEO) what are your leadership philosophies in maintaining a consistent performance over the years?
Participative management is the natural way of doing business. As Qi Card management, we believe in running the organization with collective knowledge & wisdom, wherein every employee is unique and valuable in one way or another if they are given the right environment. We also give them the freedom to continuously experiment and innovate, which are crucial to succeed in today’s constantly changing technology and business environment.
Organization: International Smart Card Group of companies (ISC Group).
Contact Person: QiCard
Address 1: Karrada Dakhel
Release Id: 2402232608
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Disclaimer: The views, suggestions, and opinions expressed here are the sole responsibility of the experts. No Funds Special journalist was involved in the writing and production of this article.