Middle East banks tackle EMV migration with Level Four's ATM software

Level Four becomes de facto standard for Saudi Arabian banks, winning 4 new customers in 2004

LONDON, 8 March, 2005 – Level Four Software has expanded its presence in the Middle East, confirming its position as the de facto standard for ATM testing and development software in the region. Faced with the complexities of Europay MasterCard Visa (EMV) migration, Level Four’s ATM Channel Development Suite is now being deployed by Banque Saudi Fransi, SAMBA, Arab National Bank, National Commercial Bank, and National Bank of Dubai to comply with the international standard in advance of the January 2006 deadline.

Increasing support for both current and prospective Middle East customers, Level Four has established new headquarters for the region in Dubai with Osman Mehta, who has been appointed general manager, leading the Middle East team to deliver local language service and support. Mehta draws on more than 15 years of industry experience to spearhead Level Four’s continued growth in the Middle East. Mehta will drive the development of the Middle East operation into a fully-fledged sales, marketing and technical support centre, with full responsibility for managing local system builds, delivery and support.

Countries across the Middle East are in the process of upgrading their banking and POS infrastructures to meet the EMV mandate for smart chip cards by January 2006. As part of this move, Saudi Arabia is also undertaking an industry-wide migration to SPAN 2, the second generation of the Saudi Payments Network, which will create a secure infrastructure for electronic fund transfers, supporting the implementation of electronic banking services across the country.

To deal with these changes, banks in the region need to support the infrastructure for their ATM networks. This includes the test tools that play an integral part in quality assurance. Banks are turning to Level Four’s EMV FastTrack to migrate their ATMs to the new EMV smart card standard. The tool enables the creation of EMV compatible ATM downloads and full end-to-end transaction testing directly from the chip card, through the ATM and up to the host system. The advanced reporting capabilities of Level Four’s solution also help the banks to gain a better overview of their ATM network.

Tareq Bashir, head of the Consumer Delivery Channels Unit at SAMBA, said: "Level Four not only has the right products for EMV migration, but also a wealth of experience in this area because of similar projects it has implemented for other leading banks. Our customers will benefit from a smooth migration to EMV smart cards, and more importantly, from the new functionality at the ATM, that Level Four enables us to deliver more quickly and efficiently."

Level Four’s ATM Channel Development Suite is meeting the demands from Middle East banks such as SAMBA for more sophisticated transaction sets at the ATM.

"Although the Middle East is a smaller market than Europe, it has always had a leading-edge approach to ATM services, which is apparent in the rich transaction sets typically on offer," said Mehta. "Recently, we have observed that the Middle East is very open to self service at the ATM. There has been an upsurge of interest in our Bunch Note Acceptor and Cheque Processing Module to address this banking trend in the region."

Level Four's Dubai headquarters acts as a hub to provide local support and training for clients implementing products within the Level Four ATM Channel Development Suite. It facilitates product customisations and development to support the local needs of Middle East clients in both English and Arabic.

"Adoption of technology amongst banks in the Middle East is based on a ripple effect. Saudi Arabia is the drop that instigates the ripple which spreads to the other GCC* countries. With Saudi Arabia’s commitment to EMV, Level Four is actively supporting the EMV ripple as it expands throughout the region," said Mehta.

In the forthcoming months, Level Four is aggressively extending its reach to leading banks in Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Level Four’s success in the Middle East has already made a significant contribution to its overall company growth and supports the company’s goal of being global market leader for ATM testing and development software in 2005.

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