The Central Bank of Oman (CBO) has pledged to shortly roll out the International Bank Account Number (IBAN) system – a globally accepted format for numbering overseas bank accounts – in the Sultanate.
The much-delayed initiative will be initiated this year, a high-level representative of the country’s apex bank said.
A survey to assess the readiness of local banks to implement the system has been completed, said Ali al Jabri, Manager – Payment Systems, CBO.
“Feedback from the survey has been received from the banks – almost all are ready. We will be able to implement IBAN within six months,” he stated.
Speaking at a banking summit held in the city recently, the official noted that the new system would help enhance the safety and security of banking transactions between customers across national borders.
“The IBAN system will be making payment processing and payment transactions all seamless, more secure and reduce errors in terms of account numbers. It will be based on ISO international standards,” he said.
Oman currently employs the SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) system for identifying banks – a code that is primarily used to pinpoint a specific bank during an international transaction. In comparison, the IBAN system is used to identify an individual account involved in an overseas transaction.
The IBAN system affixes a unique alphanumeric code to individual account holders. The IBAN number starts with a two-letter code of the country in which the account is opened, followed by two color-coded digits that validate the country code, and a Basic Bank Account Number (BBAN) that contains specific bank and account details.
Launched initially across Europe, the IBAN system has since been popularized across the world, and has come to complement the SWIFT code in securing banking transactions.
However, the United States and Canada have not implemented the system in their respective jurisdictions, but authorise the processing of payments based on the IBAN code.
When eventually implemented in the Sultanate, the IBAN and SWIFT codes will complement each other, according to officials.