Yousf Abdu Al-Kuraimi:”The Financial Services Industry restrainsits own growth by its underdevelopment” [Archives:2006/997/Business & Economy]

November 9 2006

Interview by :Yasser Al-Mayasi
On top of the pioneers in the domestic financial services industry is Al-Kurami Corporation for currency exchange and remittances. YemenTimes spoke to the General Manager of the Corporation, Yousf Abdu Al-Kuraimi, who says the financial services industry in Yemen, in spite of its importance, should be playing a far more important role in the economic development of the country. He says the financial services industry has great potential and can offer much more to the community and the economy to prompt economic growth.

Please provide a background on the establishment of Al-Kuraimi Corporation.

Al-Kuraimi Corporation was established in August 1995. Headquartered in Sana'a, Al-Kuraimi Corporation launched its first branch with an expert team lead by Chairman Abdullah Al-Kuraimi, who is a financial economist himself with over 30 years of experience in the field of financial services.

Al-Kuraimi Corporation has grown into 43 inter-connected branches along with many independent agents spread all over the country with a focus to ensure excellent and quality services for our customers. We focus on providing the best rates for currency exchange as well as instant transfers of money throughout the country.

What is the secret behind your great success?

Our success has no secrets other than our vast and long experience in the field of providing financial services for the domestic market and providing excellent service evident in our main objective being to ensure customer satisfaction with our services and exchange rates, the courtesy of our employees and the speed of funds transfers.

We always see to it that we are at the highest standards of professionalism and make sure our operations are highly systematic and competent, in order to ensure quality of service and provide the best value for our customers especially when it comes to financial transactions. Research is also an important in order to keep up with the developments in the industry.

What do you consider to be your competitive advantage?

It is the fact that we provide convenience to our clients, first we are spread all over the country and our branches are strategically located in business centers and in locations of population density. Secondly we provide the best exchange rates available in the market updated by the hour.

And thirdly we use sophisticated technology and a state-of-the-art information system because in this industry we have to receive timely information and submit it to all our customer-service personnel in our 43 branches as well as our affiliated agents.

At any point of time if you call our agents and branches you will get the exact exchange rates. We have the technology, capacity and capability to create a reliable image associated with our corporation for all our clients.

You have advocated for several fundamental changes in the financial services industry. What are the problems you currently see?

The problems are diverse, but the most critical one is that any economic reforms in the country should start with the banking and financial services industries because they are the lifeblood of the economy. However these two industries were given little emphasis.

These Reforms should start from within the financial institutions by improving their systems to reach international standards because developing Yemen's economy is highly subjective to the development of banks, lending institutions and financial services corporation – if those do not develop then we can't expect any real development in spite of all the government policy and incentives aimed at economic development.

There should be determination among directors of commercial banks and other financial institutions to modernize the operations of the industry such as their marketing, range of products and investment patterns. In needs to happen as soon as possible before they are wiped out by competition once our market opens and multinationals start their operations in Yemen.

From your point of view, how should financial services be marketed?

Marketing of financial services necessities the presence of the understanding of several concepts by the targeted audience in order to understand and comprehend the messages of respective banks and financial corporations, therefore the first stage should be educating the prospective audience.

The other critical factor is the ignorance of marketing personnel in our sector with regards to the basics of services marketing which make them an obstacle to the further growth of the industry. Each company should have its own short and long-term marketing strategies in order to expand and increase loyalty, as well as to train the required manpower in order to keep up with the times and competition.

Please brief us on the history of banking in Yemen

Banking and financial services has been existing in the modern manner since the 1940s in Aden where foreign banks were operating in service of the colonial administration as well as several businessmen who work in international trade.

Additionally, the first bank was the Yemeni Bank for Construction and Development, which was established in 1964, however, it wasn't until 1964 when an official government agency was created in order to monitor and control financial and currency affairs, but the main developments in the sectors were after the September and October Revolutions and the Yemeni Unification.

What are the regulatory mechanisms for Exchange services in Yemen?

The Legal framework came in a 1991 law which laid down the technicalities in order to obtain a license for currency exchange, giving authority to the Central Bank of Yemen to issue licenses and monitor the industry. The law also indicates which currencies shall be traded by licensed foreign exchange companies as well as regulating the exchange rates and monitoring illegal activities such as money laundering.

However the monitoring mechanism needs an overhaul, as it is limited to each foreign exchange company submitting a monthly report with all the operations of the month while auditing those reports is still voluntary.

How do you see the future of the currency exchange services in the country?

Well, Yemen is still a developing country with great potential due to the many resources it has and its considerable population, especially as Yemen has a considerable migrant community overseas as well as the increasing migration domestically which increases the demand for our services with good potential in the future, but this potential is highly subjective to the steps the industry takes to grow itself.