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Challenges Faced by Sudanese Banks in Implementing Online Banking :


Banker's Perception



Nafis Alam, PhD

Lecturer, School of Business, Monash University, Sunway Campus, Bandar
Sunway, Selangor, Malaysia
Postal Address: Monash University, Jalan lagoon Selatan, Bandar Sunway, 46150,
Selangor, Malaysia
Author's Personal Website: http://www.buseco.monash.edu.my/school-staff/Nafis Alam.html
Email: nafis.alam@buseco.monash.edu.my

Nafis Alam is currently attached to the School of Business at Monash University
 Sunway
campus, where he works as Lecturer (Islamic Finance). Nafis has
co-authored
“Encyclopedia of Islamic Finance” which is first of its kind.
He has also two co-authored
Islamic finance book to his credit.
He has published extensively touching on major
issues concerning Islamic
 finance particularly in leading Islamic journals. He has also

presented and participated in leading Islamic banking conferences.
 Alam’s main
interests are in the area of Islamic Banking, E- Banking, ICT
and National Development.

Ibrahim Hussien Musa Magboul, MBA
Lecturer, School of Management Studies, Ahfad University for Women,
Omdurman, Sudan
Postal Address: Ahfad University for Women, Omdurman, Sudan
Email: ibrahimmagboul@gmail.com
Mr, Ibrahim is lecturer at Ahfad University for Women in Sudan. Currently he
 is pursuing
his PhD from Multimedia University Malaysia.
Murali Raman, PhD
Senior Lecturer and Chairman, Center for Knowledge and Innovation
Management, Multimedia University Malaysia
Postal Address: Persiaran Multimedia, 63000, Cyberjaya, Selangor Malaysia
Email: murali.raman@mmu.edu.my
Dr. Raman is the Chair of the Center for Knowledge and Innovation Management,
 at
Multimedia University Malaysia. Prof. His areas of interest are
 Knowledge Management,

IT Infrastructure & Security Management and People Issues in
 Management of IT.


==================
By Ata Fadaee

Abstract


Innovations in Information technology have changed the way financial
transactions are
done in banking industry globally. Online banking uses
today’s computer technology to
give user the ability to manage their
finances more quickly and efficiently, from anywhere
around the world,
 and with just a click of the mouse.
Banks perceive online banking as a
powerful ‘value-added’ tool to attract
and retain new customers while helping to eliminate
costly paper handling
and teller interactions. Online banking has managed to provide

customers the convenience, efficiency, effectiveness, and most importantly,
the speed
needed in today’s dynamic world. As more banks around the world
are offering online
banking to its customers, it is becoming a rather popular
 trend. Online banking is an
asset both to the bank and the customer. However,
countries like Sudan are yet to join
the frenzy of this new innovation in an
effective manner. This paper will investigate what
are the challenges faced by
 Sudanese banks in implementing online banking.


Keywords: Online Banking, Islamic Banking, Sudan



INTRODUCTION

Sudan is one example of a country that has yet to incorporate online banking into
its
banking system. Online banking presents both an opportunity and a challenge
in terms
of being able to provide the convenience, efficiency, and effectiveness
 of online banking
to its customers. The main driver behind online banking is
 convenience. It is available
around the clock, is extremely time-saving, and is
 accessible from anywhere around the
world.
 Online banking is very efficient, and has helped cut down a lot of costs,
 and in the
case of virtual banks it has cut down almost all costs.
Banking on net save money by eliminating overhead costs such as buildings
 and tellers,
and they pass on these savings to their customers in the form of
higher yields, lower
fees, and more generous account thresholds
(DiDio, 1998, Orr, 1999). The online
banking service has recently become
very effective, offering sophisticated tools,

including account aggregation, stock quotes, rate alerts, and portfolio
managing
programs to help their customers manage all their assets more
 effectively (Tan &
Teo,2000, Thornton & White,2001, Wah, 1999) .
With all these opportunities that online banking has to offer the Sudanese
 banking
system, there are a number of challenges that it would first have
 to overcome. Sudan’s
banking system is not currently tailored to provide
online banking. It lacks the
appropriate technological infrastructure to
 support this service. There is also a lack of
specialists with the adequate
technological skills to build that infrastructure. It might also

be a challenge to convince the Sudanese customer of the convenience of online
JIBC August 2010, Vol. 15, No.2 - 3 -
banking, especially those who are not familiar with using the internet, and who
 might find
it hard to try to deal with a service that they consider confusing and frustrating.
Incorporating online banking into Sudan’s banking system is faced with lot of
 stumbling
blocks, but if the banking industry manages to overcome those
hurdles, it will acquire a
tool that will increase its number of satisfied clientele,
while cutting down its costs
significantly.

SUDANESE BANKING SYSTEM
The traditional banking system was inherited from the Anglo-Egyptian
condominium
(1899-1955). When the National Bank of Egypt opened in
Khartoum in 1901, it obtained
a privileged position as banker to and for
 the government, a "semi-official" central bank.

Other banks followed, but the National Bank of Egypt and Barclays Bank
 dominated and
stabilized banking in Sudan until after World War II.
 Post-World War II prosperity created
a demand for an increasing number
of commercial banks.

Before Sudanese independence, there had been no restrictions on the
movement of
funds between Egypt and Sudan, and the value of the currency
used in Sudan was tied
to that of Egypt. This situation was unsatisfactory to an independent Sudan, which established the Sudan Currency Board to replace
Egyptian and British money. It was not
a central bank because it did not accept
deposits, lend money, or provide commercial
banks with cash and liquidity.
In 1959, the Bank of Sudan was established to succeed

the Sudan Currency Board and to take over the Sudanese assets of the National
Bank
of Egypt. In February 1960, the Bank of Sudan began acting as the central
 bank of
Sudan, issuing currency, assisting the development of banks,
providing loans,
maintaining financial equilibrium, and advising the government.
Banks were nationalized in 1970 but in 1974, foreign banks were allowed to open
branches in Sudan. Banks are required to maintain 20% of total deposits as a statutory
reserve with the central bank. They must also direct to the agricultural sector 40% of the
funds that they have for lending under the new credit ceilings.
Currently there are about 26 banks with total capital of over US$ 700 million (Bank of
Sudan, 2007). With opening up of the Sudanese economy to the great extent in the last
few years, new banks like Al Salam bank, from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Babylos
Africa Bank started to enter Sudanese market. These foreign banks are coming with
huge capital, new technology, new ideas and new vision.
SUDAN’S ENVIRONMENT: ATTITUDE TOWARDS ONLINE BANKING
Sudan’s environment faces many challenges in the application of online banking. Sudan
is a country that is just emerging from decades of civil war that has left the country under
developed and war torn. Its infrastructure requires a lot of investments into its
rehabilitation before it is able to provide online banking in its banking environment. It
lacks the necessary technologies to setup online banking websites, and to protect it from
hackers from all around the world who are a lot more technologically advanced than the
banks of this country. Its population has a large number of uneducated people who are
not familiar with using the internet, or people who have no access to it. Bank’s
employees are not trained in the administration of online banking, and not familiar with
its benefits and drawbacks. The telecommunications infrastructure is very poor, and
internet servers provide a slow internet connection, and a network that is frequently
breaking down. Building the appropriate infrastructure in Sudan would require a lot of
money that a lot of people think should go to more prevalent issues in a country that is
just emerging from a war that has left it financially crippled.
RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
Data were collected through a survey administered in 25 various Islamic banks in the
state of Khartoum, Sudan during April- June 2008. Questionnaires were distributed
among 100 different branches in an effort to understand the problem faced by Sudanese
banking system in implementing online banking, and the implications that its application
would have on Sudan’s banks and its customers. Out of these 100 branches only 45
branches were found to be fully computerized while rest 55 percent were using the mix
on manual and computerized system.
FINDINGS
The results indicated that none of the banks in Sudan provide online banking. The most
common reason cited (90%) for this was Sudan’s poor infrastructure which does not
support online banking implementation. They stated that although the entry of foreign
banks into Sudan has brought significant technological advancements that has allowed
the establishment of such technologies as ATMs and smart cards, it still requires some
time until Sudan’s infrastructure is able to catch up with the technological revolutions. At
the same time 95% of Sudanese banks believe that their bank’s performance would be
enhanced with the usage of online banking. They stated that online banking allows faster
service to its customers, while providing them with a service that is conveniently
available at all times.
The following table discusses the bankers’ perceptions about the challenges faced by
banks in implementing online banking in Sudan.
Table 1: Dominant challenges facing realization of online banking in Sudan
Challenges Strongly
Agree Agree Disagree Strongly
Disagree
Total
%
The infrastructure of Sudanese
banks is not able to support online
banking.
77% 10% 10% 3% 100
The safety of customers’ accounts
would be compromised with online
banking.
40% 40% 15% 5% 100
The Sudanese customer is not
familiar with what online banking is,
and would therefore be reluctant to
use it.
56% 24% 16% 10% 100
A small portion of the Sudanese 15% 17% 50% 18% 100

banks’ customers use or have
access to the internet, and that
makes online banking insignificant to
them.
Building the appropriate
infrastructure to support online
banking would cost too much money
and time.
36% 52% 8% 4% 100
Banks’ employees are not trained in
the application and administration of
online banking.
62% 28% 10% 0% 100
Training employees in the application
and administration of online banking
would cost banks too much money.
30% 40% 20% 10% 100
Online banking makes banks
vulnerable to attacks by hackers. 14% 24% 40% 22% 100
Absence of strong legal framework
for online banking is delaying the
implementation
65% 28% 5% 2%
It can be seen from above result that lack of trained and skilled staff (90%) in areas of
online banking application is hampering system wide accomplishment of online banking.
While 70% of the banks strongly agreed that training those inexperienced employees
would be costly matter which is further delaying this cause.
Even lack of customers’ familiarity with online banking (80%) tools is making bankers
reluctant to implement online banking system. Security issues for online banking is not a
major concerns for bankers as more than 60% bankers feels that online banking will be
safe mode of operations. In contrary to this bankers are more concern about the
absence of prudent legal framework to supervise online banking system in the country.
More than 90% of respondents felt that legislative bodies, such as judges and lawyers
do not have sufficient knowledge about virtual crime and are not aware about how to
protect the banks and its customers from possible losses emerging from online banking.
Dealing with computer crime has not been a priority for Sudanese legal system so far.
Fig 1: Sudanese Bank Employees Awareness of Online Banking
Bank Employee Awareness of Online Banking
20% Fully Aware
55% Partially Aware
25% Not Aware
 
In terms of bankers’ awareness towards online banking system, the result showed that
only 20% of the employees are fully aware about online banking system while 55% of
banks’ employees are partially aware. Their partial awareness is mostly from web
advertisements, using internet tools, or from reading about it. One fourth of bank
personnel are completely unaware of online banking system.
The following section discusses the banks’ employees’ familiarity with online banking
tools. It can be seen from the graph 1 that these employees are most familiar with the
internet (100%), ATMs (90%), and Electronic fund transfer (60%) tools. Most of the
personnel are unaware about banks cards. 90% and 89% of the employees are
unfamiliar with debit cards and smart cards respectively. One striking observation was
that almost all the bank employees were unheard about security counter pens.
Fig 2: Banks' Employees’ Familiarity with the Online Banking Tools
When enquired about advantages banks will be able to obtain from full implementation,
all the bankers agreed that online banking system will offer convenience, efficiency, and
effectiveness in banking operations. At the same time they also established the fact that
online banking will be speedier than branch banking. These results are shown below in
table 2.
0%
10%
20%
30%
40%
50%
60%
70%
80%
90%
100%
Percentages
Internet ATMs Credit cards Debit cards Smart cards Electronic
Funds Transfer
Security
Counter pens
Digital
Signatures
Online Banking Tools
Awareness about Online Banking Tools
Unfamiliar
Partially Familiar
Familiar

Table 2: Advantages from implementing Online Banking in Sudan
Advantages from implementing Online Banking Yes No Maybe Total
Convenience 79% 10% 11% 100%
Efficiency 90% 7% 3% 100%
Effectiveness 85% 10% 5% 100%
Speed 91 % 3% 7% 100%
Multi-tasking 22% 16% 62% 100%
Ease of account inquiries 76% 23% 30% 100%
DISCUSSION
The above findings showed that Sudanese banks perceive that lack of efficient
infrastructure of is one of the major hindering blocks for the implementation of online
banking in Sudan. Many bankers believed that the entry of foreign banks into Sudan has
improved the infrastructure to some extent, but it is still not at a level where it can
support online banking. The challenges most dominant in the application of online
banking in Sudan were building the appropriate infrastructure, the Sudanese customers’
perception of online banking, and the lack of skilled bank employees that are trained in
the application and administration of online banking.
Investments by CBS and individual banks made towards the restructure of the Sudanese
banks’ infrastructure would facilitate its application and use. The purchase of security
tools by banks would guarantee online banking safety use by customers, and would
convince more customers to take the leap into the use of online banking, making use of
the convenience, efficiency, effectiveness, and other advantages that online banking has
to offer its users.
Bank employees should be trained in line with online banking operations, and more IT
specialists with adequate skills should be hired to ensure the smooth merging of online
banking into Sudan’s banking system. There is a need to increase, develop, and
enhance periodic awareness and training programs for employees in areas of security
laws and policies. Online banking sites when implemented should be tailored in simple
manner and easy to use. These sites could be offered in both the Arabic and English
language to enable users with the least amount of computer skills to use online banking
with ease.
More promotion of this service should be carried out to attracts customer towards online
banking, and to make them familiar with online banking tools in order to eliminate any
reservations that Sudanese customers might have in banking online. A public awareness
campaign aimed at all levels of the Sudanese society should be initiated by banks to
increase the level of knowledge of utilizing online banking services, especially the
security and safety aspects of these services.
A significant investment in the information technology infrastructure by the government is recommended. The government should also lay down strict legislative frameworks that
enable online banking to be established in a safe environment that is safeguarded
against all unauthorized access. In order to manage the structural integrity of the system
as a whole, the Sudanese government should have a centralized database to allow
financial institutions to report any kinds of security breaches and a dedicated
enforcement staff to research and fix problems as they occur. This staff should also
interact cooperatively with other nations and Interpol to discover and reduce financial
crime.
CONCLUSION
Online Banking is still a latest phenomenon, especially in least developed African
countries like Sudan. A number of banks in Sudan are considering going on-line.
However, the wider diffusion of online banking and its business value depends on
government and banks’ initiative towards the proper implementation of system on larger
scale. The application of online banking in Sudan seems to be a reality that is currently
out of reach in an environment that is not yet equipped with the necessary tools to
incorporate online banking into its banks. CBS has to really work hard to envisage this
dream into reality.
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3 No. 3
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تاسیس بانک اصناف،رویایی که محقق نمی شود
بررسی فن آوری های اولویت دار كشور
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