06 Feb 2013

MANAMA, BAHRAIN – 06 February 2013 – Ithmaar Bank helped earn the Kingdom of Bahrain pride of place among the world’s most technologically developed countries when it was singled out for a prestigious United Nations (UN) based award.

Bahrain is the only country in the Gulf Cooperative Council (GCC) region, and one of only two in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, to have made it among the 40 World Summit Award mobile (WSA-mobile) contest winners. A total of 400 mobile applications from more than 100 countries participated in the contest.

Organized by the International Center for New Media (ICNM) in Salzburg, Austria, the World Summit Award Mobile is a global initiative within the framework of the United Nations World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). The award takes place in collaboration with UNESCO, UNIDO, UN GAID and WSA-mobile’s key partner, Abu Dhabi Systems & Information Center.

Ithmaar Bank, a Bahrain-based Islamic retail bank, was nominated, in recognition of its pioneering MobiCash offering, for the WSA-mobile award by the Bahrain Internet Society.

“This year’s 40 awardees demonstrate that in a world of six billion mobile connections, the future belongs to mobile apps,” said WSA-mobile Chairman Prof. DDr. Peter A. Bruck. “Due to the large number of nominating countries, most winners come from Europe (21). However, awardees from Asia (8), South America (4), North America (2) and the Arab countries (2) demonstrate that mobile innovation is a global phenomenon,” he said.

“Our goal is to find apps that really make a difference for people around the globe”, said Bruck while pointing at the UN agenda of the global award. “This year’s awardees demonstrate the richness and diversity of mobile apps, and they clearly show that there is a lot going on outside Europe and the USA. If we want to make use of mobile technology’s full potential, these trends must not be ignored,” he said.

“We nominated Ithmaar Bank’s MobiCash offering for this prestigious award because we realise just how much potential this service has,” said Bahrain Internet Society President Nawaf Abdulrahman. “Ithmaar’s MobiCash, a first-of-its-kind solution in Bahrain which allows the Bank’s customers to send and receive cash through a mobile phone, can forever change the way people manage cash. This is exactly the kind of innovative thinking that we, at the Bahrain Internet Society, try to promote,” he said.

The Awards were presented at a three-day international conference and exhibition hosted by the WSA in Abu Dhabi.

Ithmaar Bank Chief Executive Officer and Member of the Board, Mohammed Bucheerei, who received the award from Prof. DDr. Bruck, stressed the Bank’s commitment to continuing its pioneering role in helping develop the region’s Islamic banking industry.

“Ithmaar has played a pioneering role in the creation and subsequent development of electronic banking in Bahrain and across the region. We have also played a pioneering role in the Islamic banking in the region.” said Bucheerei. “We remain as committed as ever to continuing this role – this prestigious international award stands testimony to that very commitment,” he said.

Ithmaar Bank’s MobiCash allows customers to withdraw cash from the Bank’s Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) without using a card. Ithmaar’s cardless cash withdrawal solution, a first of its kind in Bahrain, allows customers unprecedented convenience and can forever change the way people in Bahrain access cash. Ithmaar customers can now simply log on to the Bank’s online banking portal – either through a computer or through a smart mobile phone – and send virtual cash to an individual through their mobile telephone number. The system automatically sends an SMS code to that individual’s mobile. The individual can then go to any Ithmaar ATM, enter his or her mobile number together with the code received and simply withdraw the amount.

“There are tremendous applications to this service,” said Bucheerei. “An Ithmaar Bank customer can, for example, easily send virtual cash to friends and family or to themselves to use when the card is not immediately accessible. Ithmaar’s cardless cash withdrawal solution, Mobicash, backed by a network of about 40 ATMs across Bahrain, will make cash available virtually anywhere, at anytime,” he said.

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