This chapter introduces to the reader an overview of the dissertation; it covers the overall importance of Internet Banking Services. Hence, a background of the Internet Banking and its adaptations in different industries is provided, followed by problem statement, and aims and objectives, research questions, the contribution of the dissertation, limitation of the study, and finally an outline the dissertation structure.
Since the turn of the 21st century, there has been a worldwide trend shift, directing toward an Internet-based information society. As the evolution of globalization, banking institutions worldwide tended to utilize the internet to reduce their operation costs. Internet banking was the success factor to achieve this goal, through its ability to make customers to open a new banking account, downloads forms and process different activities such as loan request, money transfer, online payment, etc.
Internet banking (IB) is being regarded as a key element of national development for many countries. For example, China is one of the most advanced internet-oriented society and its achievements in IB are in line with the most advanced countries. Such achievements were realized not only by a great period in the development of IB but also by continued efforts of public and private sectors that have helped the effective establishment of a national strategy for an internet-oriented society (Anirban Bose, 2018). In recent years many Middle East countries designated Internet as a major task and tried to use the internet as a driving force for their economic growth. These efforts have made the region an area with great potential for the IT market that has high possibilities and opportunities for future IT developments (Anirban Bose, 2018). The information and communications market in the Middle East is expanding due to utilizing informatization in the public sector and efforts to vitalize the mobile communication business (Soderberg, 2015)
However, there is still limited policy effectiveness in developing countries that have poor IB infrastructure. This is due to the lack of skilled human resources, the irrationality of government policies, and an inadequate social system. Meanwhile, there has been rapid growth in the use of new information and IB across the range of private and commercial sectors. Many banks worldwide have introduced e-banking systems as a means of reducing costs, improving services to citizens, and increasing effectiveness and efficiency in the private sector (Carter, L., & Bélanger, 2005)
E-Banking uses information technologies to provide better efficiency, in which, bank services are available to different e-banking’s stakeholders (e.g., citizens, businesses, employees, and agencies) and increase the convenience and approachability of banking services to citizens(Carter & Bélanger, 2005).
Kurdistan Region of Iraq (hereafter KRI) was ranked as one of the most underdeveloped banking industry in the Middle East of North-Africa (MENA) (Musa, 2017).
The banking sector in KRI is a part of the banking sector of Iraq. In general, banks in KRIare characterized by their dependence on the economic situation of the region. The reform of the banking system in the region is a challenge, due to the political culture and security struggles. Its economy is mainly depending on oil export, making the economy and banking industry more fragile (Fund, 2017).
Results of political challenges
The political challenges have caused the majority of the population of KRInot to trust the banking system. This has resulted in a substantial loss of untapped potential customer base. According to statistics, more than 80% of the population does not have a bank account, which translates to 75% of the financial system in terms of assets, and 77% of GDP (Musa, 2017)
Lack of trust in the banking industry is traced back to the political and economic history of banking, which has paralyzed the development of this sector in Iraq and Kurdistan. In general, people do not trust banking because of their dependence on the booming and boosting of the economy which in turn depend on the political agenda.
The political history of banking in the region has caused the industry to lag behind. According to CIA report (2007) on the banking system in Iraq, the nationalization of the banking system in Iraq in 1965, and converting the privately owned commercial banks to state-owned banks led the industry to deteriorate in terms of customer service and operational efficiency(CIA, 2007).
According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) report (2017), the Iraqi financial sector is dominated by the state-owned banks, accounting for approximately 93% of banking system assets. These state banks are capital deficient and have a weak loan portfolio. IMF necessitates that the state-owned banks that dominate the banking system in Iraq need to be restructured (Musa, 2017).
As part of a banking reform plan that started in 2006, the Central Bank of Iraq (CBI), which is the major financial regulatory entity over the banks in Iraq as well as the Kurdistan Region, is attempting to raise credit to the economy. Despite these attempts, the overall function of the banks in the economy remains minimal (IMF,2017).
In regards to the private banks, they remained small and have been re-established relatively recently, in the period following the second Gulf War Nasr et al. (2011). Further, the professionalism of private banks is questioned by the Central Bank of Iraq officials. Despite the political, economic struggle, there are some internal issues of banking structure and process designs in both the private and state banks. The issues of internal options of the private banks are the following:
• Lack of complete and accurate data collection on banking transactions (IMF,2017).
• Low financial infrastructure associated with shortages of skills and technology (The World Bank, 2012).
• The weaknesses in administrative capacity and data provision (IMF,2017).
As shown in Figure 1.1, Iraq’s banking sector, including both private and state banks, is shallow and has a very small credit percentage to the economy.
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