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IBAN blunders, already?

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

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.

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  1. Oblivious Banker on October 19, 2011 7:45 am

    Dear Precious de Leon:

    Thank you for your faith in the UAE Banking industry. While we mortals have been tirelessly working on setting up IBAN on your accounts for the last six months, customers such as yourselves have just seen the IBAN blips on your radars this month.

    Setting up a unique 23 digit numbers is really complex indeed; if you are in kindergarten. Heck even courier companies have unique 23 digit numbers for their AWB tracking. Anyway, its not complex if you see the composition of how the 23 digit number is made up.

    So, we may not be the ‘worlds local bank’ or lay claim to the ‘most secure bank’ in the UAE, we would recommend you spend your precious reporting hours elsewhere on topics that are more realistic. Besides, stop making up juicy stories about THE email gaffe and correlating every moving thing with the word IBAN on it.

    We readers would welcome more insightful reporting on what benefit will the IBAN bring to the common man. And if you could PLEASE explain how IBAN will reduce identity fraud, we meager oblivious bankers could use it to improve our marketing programs.

    Best Regards,

    Semi-Precious de Leon

  2. Real Istikus on October 21, 2011 10:44 pm

    Well, for the last 3 years I am getting SMS and calls from Mashrek bank informing me about widrawals and asking me if I am in that country of that city. The problem is that the guy they are trying to reach is not me and I never had anything to do with that bank. despite informing them several times that there is an error in phones and going to a Mashrek bank office, nothing changed. So I am aware about all kind of private purchase and many other details about someone who probably is not getting this needed information. This is a simple thing and they are not able to get it right for so many years. Imagine the IBAN implementation. It is going to be fun

  3. chaz on October 23, 2011 4:19 am

    Dear semi-precious
    I am sure the real precious speaks for a multitude and am surprised the “world’s local bank” employees decide they have to go on the defensive already.
    As so much goes wrong continually with you locally, forewarned is forearmed and I am grateful for the heads up.
    If their own employees feel they have to defend something that should be simple, that is worrying indeed!


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