International bank reconnects with Somaliland


HARGEYSA – For many years, Somaliland had been isolated from global financial (remittance) community, perhaps because it is a de facto state – still struggling to get her recognition among the international community despite her over 26 years peaceful co-existence and sovereignty after breaking away from Somalia. Premier Bank, with its headquarters in Mogadishu, opened a new branch at heart of Hargeisa, the capital city of Somaliland with the provision for inter-bank remittance system like VISA card and the likes.

Despite the presence of international money transfer services in the region, residents in Somaliland also had problems in making online transactions and bank-to-bank services, a barrier which one international Somali bank now tries to work out.

Launched in Hargeysa, Somaliland’s capital last week, Premier Bank, an international bank which partnered with Visa as part of a wider strategic agreement to strengthen formal banking services in Somaliland aims to reconnect the country with the global payment networks.

The agreement signed between the two will enable Visa cardholders in Somaliland to use Premier Bank’s ATM network.

Abdirahman Sheikh Hassan, the bank’s general manager says the bank’s new operation in Somaliland would enable Somaliland residents to make all types of banking transactions around the world for the first time in history.

“We are member of the global provider of secure financial messaging services (SWIFT) and we have licenses from VISA and Master Card, thus making all people in Somaliland to use international banking system,” he said.

Since the civil war broke out in Somaliland in 1991, Somali citizens found increasingly difficult to use international banking system, and were merely relying on the traditional remittance companies and on which the Somali economy would crumble without remittances from emigrants.

The situation has left many Somalis struggling to access much-needed remittances from friends and relatives abroad and created a billion-dollar gap that Premier Bank seeks to fill.

As it expands its operations across Somaliland, the bank which has its headquarter in Mogadishu has a long-term goal which it hopes would help a vast part of the population relies on financial transfers from the diaspora community, known as remittances, to get by.

“Our goal is to become the premier of Somali banks and fulfill all financial needs of people in Somaliland,” Hassan said.

With the bank started its operations across Somaliland, cardholders will be able to withdraw cash, check their bank balances and pay for goods and services from merchants who started to accept Visa across the enclave.

In addition, customers will also be able to use their secure payment cards at Points of Sale (POS) across Somaliland as well as Letter of Credit services.

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