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IFC, IrisGuard to Support Financial Inclusion and Syrian Refugees in Jordan


In Cairo:
Riham Mustafa
Phone: +(202) 2461-4230
E-mail: rmustafa@ifc.org

Amman, Jordan, February 13, 2018—IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, has signed an agreement with IrisGuard, a Jordanian company specializing in iris-scanning technology, to help boost financial inclusion and improve the lives of Syrian refugees in Jordan and the region.

IFC will help IrisGuard expand the reach of its iris-based e-payment solutions, designed to help refugees and vulnerable displaced populations access cash or goods quickly and easily. With IFC support, IrisGuard will develop and roll out new iris recognition point-of-sale devices throughout Jordan and the region. More than 2.3 million Syrian refugees in Jordan and the region are registered in the system so far, allowing them to simply use their eyes to withdraw cash at selected ATMs or pay for goods at participating stores.

“Many people in the MENA region do not have access to a traditional bank account to access benefits, save money, or make payments, which is why IFC has been supporting new and innovative payment systems like IrisGuard. Our technology has the potential to help lift vulnerable beneficiaries out of poverty and contribute to accelerating economic development throughout the region,” said Imad Malhas, Group Managing Director and co-founder of IrisGuard

Traditional methods of assistance, where refugees often wait in line for cash, paper vouchers or food, can result in losses of up to 20 percent, as well as issues such as identity theft and corruption. Iris-recognition, which is 10 times more accurate than finger prints and impossible to replicate, can help reduce this loss.

“MENA is fast becoming a tech hub for innovative companies like IrisGuard,” said Dalia Wahba, IFC Country Manager for the Levant. “Initiatives like this show that technology and innovation can play a critical role in addressing humanitarian and developmental challenges like the current refugee crisis, a key priority for our work in the region.”

Since the onset of the Syrian Civil War in 2011, millions of displaced people have pursued sanctuary in other countries. According to the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees (UNHCR), an estimated 13.5 million people require humanitarian aid, including over 5 million registered Syrian refugees. UNHCR has already registered over 650,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan using IrisGuard’s biometrics technology, and the company has been awarded contracts by UNCHR and the World Food Program to distribute aid in Jordan and soon in neighboring countries in the region as well.

IFC’s work with IrisGuard is part of a wider strategy to promote private sector investment in developing countries, helping to reduce poverty and improve lives.

About IFC
IFC—a sister organization of the World Bank and member of the World Bank Group—is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. We work with more than 2,000 businesses worldwide, using our capital, expertise, and influence to create markets and opportunities in the toughest areas of the world. In FY17, we delivered a record $19.3 billion in long-term financing for developing countries, leveraging the power of the private sector to help end poverty and boost shared prosperity. For more information, visit www.ifc.org

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About IrisGuard
Established in 2001, IrisGuard is the pioneer of, and market leader in, iris recognition technology, the most secure and fault-free of all biometric analysis systems. IrisGuard deliver this through its patented EyeBank, EyeCloud, EyePay and EyeCash solutions, providing instant ATM withdrawals, remittances and food voucher replacements.  These solutions and technologies are used in a variety of payment applications, across the banking, humanitarian relief and homeland security sectors For more information please visit www.irisguard.com