To deliver the benefits of digitised financial services, banks need to transform how they engage with their customers and how they deliver their products and services. — File photo
By Sameh Awadallah/Viewpoint
Published: Wed 18 May 2022, 3:09 PM
Banking in our region is transformed. With exceptionally high levels of smartphone penetration – 91 per cent in the GCC — consumers in our region have rapidly and enthusiastically adapted to the digital economy. This has created enormous opportunities for banks and other financial services providers, but they face growing competition from lean, agile, and innovative fintech start-ups.
To deliver the benefits of digitised financial services, banks need to transform how they engage with their customers and how they deliver their products and services. They also need to approach product development with blue sky thinking, to reimagine and reshape the future of finance. With research showing that nearly 77 per cent of consumers in Saudi Arabia and 61 percent in the UAE prefer to do their banking online, traditional banks have little choice but to adapt.
Mirroring the trend is Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB), which saw an 11 per cent rise in digitally active customers in 2021. The bank now has more than 700,000 digitally enabled customers, which represents a record of 75 per cent of customers who are active on a daily or weekly basis. Currently, around 40 per cent of new ADIB customers open their accounts digitally through its facial recognition feature — the first bank in the UAE to launch the capability.
Personalisation is fundamental
The ease of being able to open a bank account using biometrics is fundamental to delivering what consumers need in the age of the digital economy: instant, safe, reliable onboarding and the immediate availability of financial products. The bank’s digital infrastructure also grants real-time access to the UAE Credit Bureau, making it possible to instantly understand the nature of the individual customer’s needs, personal circumstances and suitability for financing. And its statistics show the voracity of appetite amongst consumers for personalization and immediacy.
Around 30 per cent of the bank’s customers obtain instant and digital personal finance through its application. Meanwhile, digital remittances account for 98 per cent, while the process of updating customer profiles digitally is at 79 per cent. Cash withdrawals and check deposits have decreased within branches, and 98 per cent of withdrawals are conducted digitally, representing an increasing reliance on digital payment services.