Kuwait’s central bank has announced that six local banks have joined the GCC Cross-border Payment System (AFAQ).

In a statement, the Central Bank of Kuwait (CBK) Governor Basel Al-Haroon said the development follows the banking regulator’s efforts to develop cross-border payment systems and deploy advanced technologies.

The payment system is aimed at enhancing efficiency, minimising reliance on financial systems and external payment platforms and cutting costs.

In March 2022 CBK joined AFAQ, which connects Real Time Gross Settlement Systems (RTGSS) of GCC member states.

In the first stage, Boubyan Bank joined the payment system and in the second phase, six local banks including the National Bank of Kuwait, Kuwaiti Finance House, Ahli United BankCommercial Bank of KuwaitBurgan Bank and Kuwait Industrial Bank joined the AFAQ.

The phased joining of banks is allowed after the lenders complete all the required tests and procedures.

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According to the governor, AFAQ is designed to process remittances in local GCC currency and foreign currencies quickly, at a lower cost to clients, and in a secure environment.

It is a unit of a regional infrastructure that Gulf Payments Company manages and created for the GCC’s unified regional payment systems.

The AFAQ system is expected to bolster the GCC joint payment systems and aid in developing appropriate strategies to mitigate financial risks and achieve economic and financial integration among GCC states.