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Official: Iraqi Banking System Needs Overhaul

BAGHDAD -- Decades of dictatorship, war, international sanctions, and isolation from the outside world have left Iraq's banking sector in such a poor state that people do not believe such things as cash machines or a "smart card" exist, a senior banking official says.

Rafidain Bank Director Abdul-Hussayn al-Yasiri told RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq that if the banking system is an indication of a country's overall development, then Iraq has a very low ranking.

Al-Yasiri said personal accounts, safe deposits, and exchanges with foreign banks are virtually nonexistent in Iraq.

He added that his bank is planning to launch mobile bank branches to go to areas where there are no banks to enable local businesses, state employees, and others to use banking services.

Al-Yasiri underlined that Iraq is taking the first steps to overhaul its banking sector and reconnect with the world.