UAE’s Mashreq Bank now operates only 10 branches in the country and will soon be branchless:
Mashreq Bank, one of the oldest banks in the Gulf region, having established in 1967 and even before the UAE was founded as an independent country, has been an early adopter of technologies mainly with a view to create customer convenience and customer delight. The bank has been investing heavily in digital initiatives, understanding in no uncertain terms that this is the strategy that can bring in benefits for the customers. And the bank vouches that over the years customers have indeed responded positively for its efforts.
AUTOMATED KYC PLATFORM
The bank has realized early that its retail and SME customers are ready and keen to adopt self-service offerings and digital banking even as they wish to have personalized or customized solutions, especially in non-transactional services. And the bank has never hesitated to cater to these needs. For example, the bank has developed and introduced a blockchain-based data-sharing platform that takes care of its entire KYC procedure and that is first of its kind in the region. It ensures a faster, reliable and more secure onboarding and digital data exchange process and totally eliminates the paper-based KYC process.
This platform is not merely a KYC tool but enables the bank’s staff in their collection and management of data in a totally digital way. In addition, the platform will help oversee banks’ collection and management of KYC data. It was the first bank to launch a digital-only SME bank account and the first in the region to enable customers to complete the Know Your Customer (KYC) updates digitally.
Mashreq Bank has been investing heavily in data analytics and Artificial Intelligence to power its systems. It has also deployed robotics to automating its many operating procedures, most of them manual and repetitive in nature. Besides, it has forged alliances with fintechs to manage payments, wealth management, credit underwriting and customer identity and authentication, which were hitherto done manually.
INSTANT ACCOUNT OPENING
One of the bank’s popular digital banking platforms is NEOBiz, which is targeting startups and SMEs. NEOBiz allows a fintech or an SME to open an account digitally in just 20 minutes based mostly on e-mail interaction with the applicant. In the past, this has been a cumbersome process for the applicants, sometimes taking even months to fulfil the various criteria. NEOBiz is functional 24×7 both through online and mobile banking in addition to call center, interactive teller machines and a virtual relationship manager.
FOR FINANCIAL INCLUSION
The bank has recently collaborated with Emirates Digital Wallet in the launch of a digital cash platform, klip. The platform is a seamless, secure payments system that is geared towards improving financial inclusion and driving contactless and cashless transactions.
Foreseeing the requirements of its digitally savvy customers, the bank has created another platform besides NEOBiz – WhatsApp Banking that offers better convenience. The bank’s branches have digital-only kiosks and there are personalized flagship branches for segments such as Mashreq Gold and Business Banking and SMEs. It has also deployed Mashreq Matrix for its corporate banking clients and which is the digital global transaction banking, trade and cash management platform.
Mashreq has implemented Microsoft Azure, which integrates multiple information sources with machine learning (ML), creating seamless data transfer with easy access. The data repository thus created has significantly changed the customers’ banking experience.
3 PILLAR APPROACH
The bank’s digital retail banking platform, which it launched in 2020, has converted more than 70% of its customer journeys to digital. It is now planning the next phase and optimize the digital experiences using a three-pillar approach – the first pillar being creation of a rich data source that enables easy access and governance, the second being leveraging ML and ML Ops to analyze and monetize the data, and the third innovating the offers through the use of Azure Cognitive Services.
Mashreq also intends to exploit AI and ML to help with fraud detection and internal credit scoring for customers.
As the bank prepares for a digital-only future and fend off competition from non-traditional financial services startups, the crux of all its efforts in digitization remains its total commitment towards customer centricity. Through its digital-first approach, customers can benefit from a banking experience that is convenient, tailored to their needs and meets their evolving demands.
ONLY 10 BRANCHES IN UAE
A direct result of the digitization journey is that the bank today operates only 10 branches in the whole of the UAE, down from 34 about 2 years ago. This is set to fall further as more operations come under the digital umbrella. And the bank’s CEO Ahmed Abdelaal is confident traditional branches of the bank will cease to exist soon. He has also maintained that Mashreq, given its high levels of digitization, is not competing with traditional banks anymore and its real competitors are the providers of client experience – the owners of data, the owners of information.
This article has been compiled based on publicly available information on the web, particularly the bank’s own website.