Subroto Som, Executive Vice President – Group Head of Retail Banking Group, Mashreq Bank, speaks to Banker Middle East
editor's pickTuesday 20, November 2018
How have you sought to improve the customer journey?
Mashreq has been at the forefront of innovation for over 50 years, more recently introducing digital products and services that provide seamless, convenient, secure and cost effective banking solutions. Mashreq Neo is a great example of how we use innovation to empower our customers. It is the first digital bank in the GCC where customers can apply for credit cards, open foreign currency accounts, make investment transactions, and buy virtual commodities including gold, all from their mobile phones. No other digital bank in the country can currently offer these capabilities. During the last 12 months, Mashreq has invested heavily in digital payment technology, further simplifying the banking experience for our customers.
Are there any specific innovations implemented recently that you could highlight?
Over the last two years Mashreq Bank has made significant investments in the use of artificial intelligence, robotics and other cutting edge technologies. By combining new technology, new expertise and innovative ways of banking, Mashreq represents the future of banking in the UAE. Mashreq continues to lead the way in encouraging the adoption of digital payments. We were the first bank to introduce Alipay in the region, and were among the first to embrace both Apple Pay and Samsung Pay when they launched in the UAE.
In 2018, we also launched our own digital wallet, Mashreq Pay, allowing customers to ‘tap and pay’ at retail outlets making their payment experience quick, easy and more secure. We are also a part of the Emirates Digital Wallet initiative, working closely with the UBF to provide accessible cashless solutions for the unbanked and underbanked. We have plans to introduce new digital payments services that offer customers even more choice in the way they want to pay. As the oldest bank in the country, we are fully aligned to the UAE government’s vision to make all government utility services cashless by 2021.
How are you looking to acquire more customers?
Our strategic focus remains squarely on empowering our customers, providing the highest quality of services through stateof- the-art technology. Today, customers are willing to switch loyalties to enjoy a superior experience. Size is not the only factor to determine the winner – speed, agility and superior customer service will get you across the finish line ahead of your peers. Our ongoing transformation program is key to maintaining our leadership position as the UAE’s most innovative digital bank.
What role will new digital technologies play in the future of Mashreq’s retail banking experience?
Mashreq continues to lead the way in encouraging the adoption of digital banking in the UAE and beyond. This year, we launched a program to transform our branch network, which focuses on advisory services that encourage greater human interaction between employees and customers for major financial decisions. For everyday transactions, our state-ofthe- art technology enables customers to benefit from a wide range of self-service facilities, and we have plans to expand our range of services across our network to make banking even quicker, easier and more accessible. Today, 92 per cent of Mashreq financial transactions are undertaken via automated digital channels and 65 per cent of inquiries are made online or via mobile. We continue to invest in our digital capabilities and anticipate our financial transaction reaching close to 97 per cent by the end of this year.
Where does Mashreq fit within the broader UAE retail banking sector?
The retail banking industry faces challenges as technology enables newage innovators to identify customer value ideas and propositions that will disrupt the whole industry. Within the financial sector, we keep a close eye on our competition and other banks. Our belief is that over time, banks will not be competing with not just other banks but there will be new competitors. Banks that hope to survive must urgently pursue digital simplicity.
That is why at Mashreq, our focus is to invest in digital and data capabilities that radically simplify the business while dramatically improving the customer experience, specifically through greater efficiency, quality, and speed. We recognise the key to creating the best possible experience and the most engaging customer journey is building a solid foundation on insightful data.