‘LIV AHEAD’ with Bank of the Future

Marwan Hadi, Group Head, Retail Banking and Wealth Management at Emirates NBD, highlights importance of technology and innovation in modern banking operations

By Muzaffar Rizvi

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Published: Fri 22 Dec 2023, 11:48 AM

Last updated: Fri 22 Dec 2023, 11:49 AM

EMIRATES NBD will continuously explore opportunities to bring groundbreaking technological advancements to financial services to become the most innovative bank for its customers, people, and communities.

Marwan Hadi, Group Head, Retail Banking and Wealth Management at Emirates NBD, said the bank is consistently investing in technology to deliver innovative products and best-in-class customer service to its tech-savvy customers.

“We are not just a bank; we aspire to be the ‘Bank of the Future.’ We see our journey of innovation and technology integration as always ongoing,” Hadi told BTR during an interview.

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Excerpts from the interview:

Given the centuries-old history of banking and the ongoing need for banking services, what is the true significance of technology and innovation in the modern banking landscape?

Being quick to adapt and respond to customer needs is paramount in today’s fast-paced world. The ability to continually deliver innovative products and best-in-class customer service are key drivers of growth across various segments of our business – and you’ll see that with any business in any sector really.

Emirates NBD is consistently investing in technology to deliver innovative products and best-in-class customer service to its tech-savvy customers.
Emirates NBD is consistently investing in technology to deliver innovative products and best-in-class customer service to its tech-savvy customers.

Embracing technology as a catalyst for transformation has opened up a world of possibilities for us and our customers. Our commitment to continuous investment in technology has been a game-changer for our business. It has enabled us to launch new products and services with remarkable agility. Whether it’s Retail Banking and Wealth Management, Corporate and Institutional Banking, Global Markets and Treasury, or Islamic Banking, technology continues to play a pivotal role in our growth and success.

The bank has an embedded digital wealth platform on which users can invest in and trade over 11,000 global and local ETFs and Equities.
The bank has an embedded digital wealth platform on which users can invest in and trade over 11,000 global and local ETFs and Equities.

Today, about 84 per cent of our customers are digitally active, increasingly turning to digital touchpoints not only for their everyday banking needs – such as checking account balances, transferring money or making a payment – but also for managing their product holdings and signing up for new products. We also see contactless payments on the rise providing increased customer convenience and flexibility. Emirates NBD has been an early mover in this area, currently offering a complete suite of contactless payment options in the UAE, accounting for about 95 per cent of all point-of-sale transactions.

Our vision has always been clear — to be the most innovative bank for our customers, people, and communities. To achieve this vision, we continuously seek opportunities to bring groundbreaking technological advancements to financial services. We are not just a bank; we aspire to be the ‘Bank of the Future.’

You mentioned Emirates NBD’s commitment to innovation and becoming the ‘Bank of the Future.’ Could you share some specific examples of how technology and innovation are enhancing customer experiences at Emirates NBD?

As a pioneer in digital banking and payments technologies, we strive to leverage our intellectual and technological assets to revolutionise the digitisation of banking services.

The bank has a solid track record of pioneering several innovations and digital-first banking solutions.
The bank has a solid track record of pioneering several innovations and digital-first banking solutions.

One of our most recent crowning achievements is ENBD X, our state-of-the-art mobile banking app. It represents the future of banking, offering our customers over 100 simplified services many of which are instant and paperless, and provides users with an easy-to-manage preferences centre. Through ENBD X, we are redefining the way people manage their finances, giving them greater control and convenience.

We have also introduced Emirates NBD Pay, our merchant acquiring service, which simplifies payments for both our customers and merchants. We are also proud to provide real-time FX rates, so our customers have access to the most up-to-date information for their currency transactions.

In addition, Emirates NBD’s tablet banking initiative helps customers open an account or sign up for a personal loan, credit card or an investment product in a completely paperless manner. Our bank was also the first in the region to launch Chat Banking via WhatsApp, an easy-to-use secure channel that allows customers to seamlessly carry out daily banking functions on the go.

Notably, we have taken the lead in the region in offering carbon future contracts trading, fulfilling growing demand from corporations to manage their carbon emissions offsetting and align with the UAE’s Net Zero 2050 action plan. And we will continue to forge meaningful sustainability and innovation focused collaborations with other private sector companies and government entities as part of our effort to mitigate climate change.

You mentioned the importance of reinventing customer journeys. Could you provide insights into how Emirates NBD is reimagining customer journeys to offer a more user-friendly and enhanced user experience?

I would say the best, most recent example of this is ENBD X. It’s been engineered from the ground up as per the latest technology, security and user experience trends. It’s a cloud-native app that offers an unbeatable combination of lightning-fast performance, user-friendly journeys, top-level security, and the largest array of products and services in the market.

The App offers access to more than 150 everyday banking services – that’s not a small number. It includes everything from updating Emirates ID and Passport details, to opening a fixed deposit, obtaining account balance certificates and reference letters, and applying for a loan on card in real time. It also has an embedded digital wealth platform on which users can invest in and trade over 11,000 global and local ETFs and Equities. Not just this, customers can also create personalized watchlists and subscribe to IPOs on the same platform.

And now, transferring funds on ENBD X is just like sending a text, with of free global transfer and payment options and recommendations on the best transfer method based on the selected beneficiary. Users can view all transactions across their accounts and cards, instantly download authenticated account statements, and even view images of cheques deposited in their account — an innovative, region-first feature, particularly useful in the UAE. The App also helps users maximise day-to-day savings through more than 1,000 personalised Emirates NBD-exclusive deals across travel, shopping, dining and e-commerce.

Within a short period of time since launch, ENBD X has become the preferred way of banking for a majority of customers in the bank. I’m proud to say ENBDX has already won several awards, including the Excellence in Mobile Banking Award by Finnovex Magazine, the Best Mobile Banking Application – UAE Award by Global Business Outlook, Most Innovative Retail Banking App – UAE Award by Global Banking and Finance Review, and the Best Mobile Banking App in UAE Award by the International Finance Magazine.

Tell us more about what you are doing for Gen Z, or Gen Y, the Gen Now?

So, we recently revamped our digital bank Liv, with a new value proposition targeted at Generation Now (or Gen Now as they are called) empowering them with a better financial future through innovative offerings and a superior digital experience.

The Gen Nows, which primarily consists of Gen Zs and Gen Ys, have distinct lifestyles. They are tech savvy, they have a willingness to take calculated risks and the ability to juggle multiple jobs, and they also have strong sustainability focus. These traits translate into unique financial needs that an all-purpose digital banking companion like Liv is uniquely positioned to fulfill. Our proposition is deeply aligned with their values and aspirations. In fact, we found in our research that 78 per cent of them would consider switching their main bank to a fully digital bank.

Liv customers enjoy access to some of the market’s most innovative products and services, in generationally relevant formats. Liv is the first digital bank to introduce The Bonus Multiplier Account, a gamified structure that rewards customer loyalty by providing a three per cent increment on their salaries every month. Additionally, it offers the Money Ahead Deposit, a 4-month fixed deposit with an attractive interest rate of for per cent, delivering interest upfront on day one. Liv also offers the only credit card that allows switching the rewards between skywards miles and cash back with one click through the App, giving this flexibility to the users instead of customers having to carry two cards.

Our Goal Accounts are also very popular, empowering customers to easily save money toward personalised financial goals while earning attractive returns on their balances. Another much needed and relevant offering is Liv Young, an app designed for kids and teenagers, along with exclusive lifestyle deals available exclusively to Liv customers through the mobile app.

And as customers’ needs evolve and become more sophisticated, they can seamlessly transition to other Emirates NBD propositions, ensuring they continue their financial journey within our group. So, Liv is not just a digital bank; it’s really a financial partner that understands and caters to the unique needs and aspirations of Gen Now, helping them build a brighter financial future. Our proposition is also reflected our new tagline, ‘Liv Ahead’.

How do you envision the future of banking, and where does Emirates NBD see itself in this evolving landscape?

We see our journey of innovation and technology integration as always ongoing. We must always push the boundaries of what is possible in the world of banking and finance.

We have a solid track record of pioneering several first-to-market innovations and digital-first banking solutions that simplify and deliver positive change to the lives of customers. One of the ways we do this is co-creation and experimentation. For example, we have launched the Emirates NBD Digital Asset Lab, which is a platform with industry experts that enables co-creation and experimentation for the development of innovative ideas in financial services using digital assets and its underlying technologies.

We have also joined forces with Microsoft in a partnership that will help us tap into the power of generative AI to change Emirates NBD’s operations and enhance productivity across various business functions. The functions we are mainly focusing on at the moment is its use in software development, collaboration, and customer engagement.

We look forward to using AI to unlock new growth opportunities, redefine customer engagement, and shape the future of banking to enhance financial prosperity for our customers, people and communities.

SETTING SIGHTS ON FUTURE BANKING

•Today, about 84 per cent of our customers are digitally active, increasingly turning to digital touchpoints not only for their everyday banking needs, but also for managing their product holdings and signing up for new products.

•The bank also sees contactless payments on the rise providing increased customer convenience and flexibility. Emirates NBD has been an early mover in this area, currently offering a complete suite of contactless payment options in the UAE, accounting for about 95 per cent of all point-of-sale transactions.

•ENBD X, a state-of-the-art mobile banking app. It represents the future of banking, offering our customers over 100 simplified services many of which are instant and paperless, and provides users with an easy-to-manage preferences centre.

•Emirates NBD Pay, the bank's merchant acquiring service, which simplifies payments for both customers and merchants.

•Emirates NBD provides real-time forex rates, so its customers have access to the most up-to-date information for their currency transactions

•The bank’s tablet banking initiative helps customers open an account or sign up for a personal loan, credit card or an investment product in a completely paperless manner.

•The bank was also the first in the region to launch Chat Banking via WhatsApp, an easy-to-use secure channel that allows customers to seamlessly carry out daily banking functions on the go.

— muzaffarrizvi@khaleejtimes.com


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