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IBAN blunders, already?
The nationwide implementation of IBANs is a good thing. But Precious de Leon thinks gaffes are bound to happen along the way, especially with only a month before the deadline.
October 18, 2011 3:59 by Precious de Leon
As I read the news today of the UAE Central Bank making International Bank Account Numbers (IBAN) mandatory by November 19, I had that feeling at the pit of my stomach. It was a feeling I get all too often when reading news like this–with exactly a month to implement IBANs, this is going to be a DISASTER.
The IBAN implementation is a good thing, of course. It can only help customers as account designations will finally be standardised, minimising possibilities of identity fraud and the like. But oh goodness, a month? Well I suppose it’s great to see that the UAE Central Bank has a lot of faith in the sector’s ability to execute this initiative without a hitch, that too despite seeing deadline after stop-start deadlines of other nationwide projects (the national ID project, comes to mind).
So they’ve got one month to assign every bank account in the UAE a unique IBAN. No one account shall have the same 23-digit sequence. Good luck.
I thought better of it and initially decided to give the UAE’s banking sector the benefit of the doubt. There was a tiny bit of hope there that the implementation would run smoothly so I was going to opt not to write about my reservations on how worry-free this undertaking was going to be.
But before I could hang my hat, I saw an article in The National detailing how a major bank–a global one at that–has already made a security blunder by revealing personal email details of its high-income customers. And according to that article, HSBC said the privacy violation was because of the IBAN implementation. The National reports, however, that this is the second time in two years that ‘the world’s local bank’ has committed this gaffe.
Let’s set aside for a moment that banks in the UAE are not particularly popular for their customer relationship management. The fact that this blunder surfaced within less than a few days after the IBAN announcement does not bode well for the rest of the month. What other issues should we anticipate? Several people being given the same IBAN digits? Accounts swapped? Money transferred to the wrong accounts? Scary thought.
So buckle down, watch this all happen in front of you and hope that you (and your bank account) will come out of this in one piece…and one unique IBAN.