Born and raised in Afghanistan, Ramin Rastin migrated to Australia in 2019 in search of a new life for his young family while his wife and son sought safety in Turkey.
For two years they lived apart. They were finally reunited in Australia and Ramin says it’s thanks to the Given the Chance (GTC) program which recruits job seekers refugees and asylum seekers into employment. With a job he was able to apply to have his wife and son join him in Australia.
Ramin’s story – the business of banking
I worked in the Afghanistan banking industry for 11 years under very difficult business conditions, afflicted by incessant strife and unrest.
Banking in Afghanistan has its challenges. Dealing with a cash-based environment as digital payments are still very new, strict compliance requirements to address illegal activity, lack of customer education and lack of skilled staff, and a shortage of banking services in rural areas are just some.
The environment and the business conditions urge you to be attentive, tuned-in and cautious on a whole different level. I recall one day travelling with an armoured vehicle in a convoy to deliver cash to the United States Army Finance office and another day I had to return to the office due to an imminent security threat.
Despite these challenges, I learned a lot in Afghanistan. Modern banking is in its infancy and emerged only recently. Around 60 per cent of the population is under 25 years of age, so we had an opportunity to expand retail banking, consumer loans, e-banking products and services across the country.
In my previous roles I was in charge of retail banking and helping customers move to digital banking. I initiated the first “Smart Branch” in the country and added more self–service tools in branches. However, implementation of these changes had to run parallel with improving staff capability and customer education.
The banking industry is heavily regulated and a cash-based environment was a big challenge. I was responsible for ensuring branches remained aligned with international compliance and regulatory standards.