15/11/2009 00:00 AST

Bank Albilad has announced an ambitious expansion plan for its remittance division (Enjaz). The announcement follows reports that remittances from Saudi Arabia are soaring despite the global financial recession. The total remittances from the Kingdom exceeded SR56.2 billion during the first eight months of 2009, representing a 12 percent increase, compared to the same period a year before.

“Bank Albilad would like to tap the growing remittance market further with new products and services, while it has finalized plans to expand the network of Enjaz remittance centers across the Kingdom,” said Sami Al-Rajhi, head of Enjaz Network. Muzher Ali Algarni, Enjaz Group’s business development officer, was also present. Al-Rajhi said that Bank Albilad had established 94 centers to serve customers in the field of fund remittances and cash currency exchange.

“We are aiming to expand our operation by 30 percent in all segments including infrastructure, manpower and technology,” said Al-Rajhi, without giving the exact number of Enjaz centers that are planned within the next year. He did say, however, that three new Enjaz centers had been opened in Riyadh, Wadi Al-Dawasir and Abqaiq. Al-Rajhi, who gave an overview of the remittance market of the Kingdom in his briefing, said that about 60 to 70 percent of Saudi Arabia’s SR69 billion outbound remittances went to South Asia. He said, “Saudi Arabia was the biggest remittance market from where more than SR468 billion were remitted to different countries between 2001 and 2008.”

Quoting a World Bank report, the Enjaz head said that the Kingdom had not experienced any reduction in the number of foreign workers. The trend is evident in remittance numbers, he added.

Asked about the new services launched by the bank, he said a top-of-the-line remittance service called “EnjazEasy” had been launched that ensures the delivery of remittances within seconds, not minutes. “This new service, launched in cooperation with our correspondent banks, is limited to eight countries at the moment,” said Al-Rajhi, adding that the funds transferred by a customer with the help of EnjazEasy reach the beneficiary the moment it is sent to those countries. Also, a beneficiary abroad can also get cash within a few seconds from the time of the transfer. This is in addition to the 32 countries, where Enjaz centers have been remitting money by using conventional money transfer methods. Al-Rajhi said that Enjaz centers were open 12 hours a day and charge a minimum of SR16 for remittance transactions. “Moreover, our products are tailored according to customers’ requirements based on extensive market research,” added Al-Rajhi.

He pointed out that Enjaz’s correspondent banks were the leading banks in their respective countries. Enjaz’s services include remittances, drafts, and cash currency exchange. “This product range will expand in the near future,” he said adding that the Bank Albilad wanted to expand Enjaz banking services to cover all parts of the Kingdom.

On the question of money laundering, he said that Bank AlBilad had been providing training for its staff, mainly Enjaz employees, on how to identify and combat money laundering.

“We are exerting extensive efforts in the area of financial crime and money laundering,” said Al-Rajhi. He pointed out that the move is in line with the policies of the Kingdom, which together with several member countries of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) have decided to intensify their efforts to fight money laundering on local, regional and international levels.


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