Retail banking today has already become a digital business, spurred by the rapid spread of broadband access and affordable smart mobile devices. Globally, an average of more than half of consumers’ banking interactions took place through online or mobile channels, with an even greater share in digitally advanced markets like the Nordic countries and Australia. However, in the Middle East, despite all the interest in mobile banking and digital payments, banks have still not weaned off the brick-and-mortar model. Held at the Le Meridien Dubai Hotel from 4 to 5 April, this year’s edition, the 12th Annual Middle East Retail Banking Confex will be hosting top bankers from around the world to share their insights on how retail banking in the region is set to undergo a significant change.
FinTech today, has empowered banks to pursue larger goals than mere banking, Kannan Ramasamy, CEO of Vayana, says: “While banks will continue to compete on products, services and margins, the more enlightened banks are likely to enhance their position by developing a differentiated customer experience. One approach to consider is to develop experiences that are simple and relevant from an end user standpoint. For example, pivoting around simplicity in design will enable greater adoption of self-service behaviour from end users”.
Till date, most banks in the region have focused their digital investments on improving their ability to do simple transactions through online or mobile channels, however, they haven’t devoted much attention to making customers’ banking lives more convenient, easy and engaging, by creating a differentiated customer experience. Creating positive digital opportunities is therefore, critical for improving customer experience. “As we move into ‘Banking without Interfaces’ customer experience will be seamless, limited only by the possibilities imagined in the user stories. We will see innovations in Analytics, Payments, Market Places, Onboarding and P2P Lending to name a few”. Ramasamy added.
According to Suvrat Saigal, MD and Head of Global Retail at the National Bank of Abu Dhabi, IoT and augmented reality will play a pivotal role for the FinTech industry in 2017. He adds: “The ability to incorporate new technologies at an early stage will increasingly become a differentiator for banks. Disruptive technologies like Internet of Things (IoT) have the potential to create the ability to understand customer needs real time and tailor solutions to the individual, something that customers have begun to expect from their service providers. Add to that, Augmented Reality (AR) technologies combined with the ability to interpret big data and you can transform customer experience by merging the virtual and physical realities and making banking integrate seamlessly into everyday interactions”.
Suvrat identifies increased government investments in infrastructure projects leading to Expo 2020 & FIFA 2022, renewed focus on personal lending, and targeting the expat population by tapping into cross-border payments as the primary factors that will drive growth in the retail banking industry in MENA region.
While retail banks globally have focused on developing a customer centric model along with significant reliance on data and analytics, retail banks in MENA are yet to embrace such changes. Ehab Mahmoud Hassoubah, GM Retail Banking Divisions at Bank Albilad, said: “banks in MENA will pick up within the next two years on Customer Relationship Management Systems, Data Warehousing capabilities, and Analytics. As for hardware, I believe we will see more deployment of Self-Service/Self-Assisted Kiosks”.
Stressing on the limitless potential of data analytics, Hassoubah adds “I see banks in the region coming closer with telecom, fintech, and government entities. I also believe that banks will play a major role in enhancing the ‘savings’ attitude amongst consumers, raising the bar on Customer experience and centricity, increasing dependency on transacting Online and through Kiosks in bank and non-bank premises (public areas), and increasing dependency on analytics and use of customer data”.
Most of the banking and Fin-Tech leaders agree that, today, the industry is in the middle of a multiwave trend where a digital-first approach focuses on optimizing current products and services offered, while the second wave is entrenched in data analytics that drives targeted customer offerings and improved services. Middle East Retail Banking Confex will focus on bringing banking service in MENA at par with their global counterparts. The confex will bring together leading innovators, leaders and industry peers who will come together and hold a dialogue on tackling key issues in the industry, while formulating effective strategies to adapt to the shifting global landscape.
The 12th Annual MERB Confex is organized by Fleming. with Newgen as the Gold Sponsor, Simon, Kucher & Partners at the Silver Sponsor, RB Technologies as the Strategic Chatbot Partner, Tata Consultancy Services as the Digital Transformation Sponsor and Finesse as the exhibitor, while Loxon, Vayana, Express Money and Backbase have partnered as the Associate Sponsors. The event will take place at the Le Meridien Dubai Hotel from 4 to 5 April