Kawa Junad Surpasses Demand for Better Banking in Iraq, Pushes For New Digital Financial Ecosystem

The First Iraqi Bank
Author: Pau Castillo

Banks globally play a major role in credit provisions and payment system functions. With Iraq remaining a cash-based country, it results in little room for a robust banking sector to emerge. Due to its undeveloped banking sector, primarily dominated by the state, its people lack access to proper financial services and growth.

According to the 2021 report of the Institute of Regional & International Studies (IRIS), Iraq does not have a banking system, at least in the way that banking is globally understood or practiced. They may have 'banks' that perform certain functions, but these do not perform the essential functions that characterize a modern banking system.

This situation has led to the Iraqis demanding better banking services, pushing business and technology tycoon Kawa Junad to provide innovative measures that can pivot Iraq from being a cash-based economy to a new digital financial ecosystem.

Kawa Junad is an entrepreneur and philanthropist that led many ground-breaking telecommunications and fintech projects in Iraq. His most recent breakthrough is the foundation of the first digital bank in Iraq, the First Iraqi Bank (FIB).

FIB as a new financial ecosystem in Iraq

FIB aims to shift the Iraqi financial world to the highest level of the banking system. Junad explains, "The First Iraqi Bank is more than just a digital bank. It's a big platform. It is a new financial ecosystem. You can call it a software app, which includes so many services. It's a financial institution that would allow Iraq and other countries to enter the FinTech world with a solid advanced foundation."

FIB is a combination of western and eastern technologies in one digital platform. As a new financial ecosystem in Iraq, it introduces many innovative technologies that will change the financial technology industry in the country.

The digital bank provides Iraq's citizens with a full scope of online banking services. It completes the customer experience by assigning each one an IBAN (International Bank Account Number) to allow cross-border transactions. It also introduces electronic payments, such as scanning QR codes and direct payment transactions, without third parties involved. According to Junad, these innovative features aim to make the lives of the Iraqi people convenient and sufficient and bring financial freedom to other unbanked countries that also demand them the most.

"We know exactly the needs and try to invent something new even if it's not available. Instead of going through any legacy in that business, we develop something that accommodates the market's needs. We always come up with new concepts, and we develop them into new state-of-art projects," Junad adds.

The future of technology in Iraq and other neighbouring countries

Kawa Junad is the current Chairman and one of the major shareholders of Newroz Telecommunications Holding and Regional Telecom companies. Since the beginning of his 20-year experience, Junad's primary goal has been to improve Iraq and the lives of its people by providing them with technologies that can make life easier. Despite all political and financial hindrances, Junad and his team have always believed in the power of technology and Iraq's potential for growth and opportunity for change.

As the first one to interconnect at the Iraqi borders to provide Iraq with an international internet connection through his company, Newroz Telecom company, Junad hopes that these innovations will open a development opportunity not just in Iraq but also in other neighbouring countries. He sees the demand of those still following an unbanked financial legacy.

"Though it'll take time for those countries to adapt to the new cashless banking and payment system, we must strive and continue, because once we enter the market and bring our technologies, they will be more advanced than others within a few years. FIB will be the reason that, in the next five to ten years, the unbanked countries you see right now will be at the top of the list when it comes to digital banking service. It will be expanding very quickly to other countries as well," Junad explains.

At present, Junad is not just an entrepreneur but also a deeply dedicated philanthropist working with several charities and contributing to the improvement of the educational system in the region. He has made a massive impact in the telecommunications and internet industry that has changed Iraq before and will continue to make groundbreaking shifts as part of the country's significant transformation of the banking sector.