By Jessica Combes
What are your views on the development of financial technology in the retail banking market?
In the last few years technology has rapidly evolved—big data, cloud computing, smartphones and high bandwidth are all common now. Almost all banks and financial institutions have already experimented successfully with the digital aspect of banking and business. Now the focus revolves around finding ways to take advantage of the technologies available to save cost while generating revenue for investors and stakeholders alike.
Financial institutions in the region all have digital transformation agendas. In your opinion, what is the most important aspect of this initiative?
The age of digital banking has to be fundamentally different and must operate with an enhanced business model that offers new capabilities, customer proposition, products and services. Therefore, the most important aspect of a digital transformation is the business model transformation itself. It is all about starting new initiatives in diverse ways that in the end will create new values for customers as well as employees.
How has RAKBANK carried out its digital transformation agenda? Which operational areas has this initiative covered and what were the challenges encountered during the implementation?
When carrying out our digital agenda at RAKBANK the focus is mainly on building a digital platform that is robust enough to track the digital transformation and innovation’s progress and must be flexible enough to ensure value creation for our customers. Here is a list of a few initiatives that the bank has completed or is still in progress:
• The bank enhanced its online and mobile banking platforms, combined into one, and renamed as RAKBANK Digital Banking Platform. The bank’s digital transformation is designed to provide end users with features such as heightened security, maximum convenience, and real time transaction processing. The underlined RAKBANK Digital Banking Platform is powered by Infosys Finacle;
• We partnered with C3, a prepaid card service provider, in order to provide C3 with a BIN sponsorship on their prepaid cards to strengthen the C3 payroll offering. With this partnership, UAE based companies will be able to provide immediate salary transfers to their blue-collared workers on the C3 prepaid payroll card. This enables RAKBANK to offer payroll solutions for both banked and unbanked employees and companies, thus promoting financial inclusion and opening up new market space for the bank;
• We are among the first few banks in UAE to leverage blockchain for powering cross border payments. Recognising the rising power of the technology, we have launched an instant, frictionless, and secure money transfer services through RAKBANK’s award winning RAKMoneyTransfer (RMT) to Axis Bank account holders based in India using the power of blockchain. The customer interface of RakMoneyTransfer has been built on Rakbank’s Digital Banking Platform which is powered by Infosys Finacle.
• The bank also launched contactless cash withdrawal facility that is available on more than 170 NFC enabled ATMs. The integration of additional fintech models into the bank’s operations will provide new opportunities for customers similar to the Apple Pay and Samsung Pay experience, which were rolled out back in 2017;
• In the analytics space we have used the power of log analytic to analyse the data in the system logs and got insights into the customers’ journey while accessing the various channels and offering understanding to the customer service managers, which enables them to service customers instantly;
• Digitalisation is not only attained at customer level, but also at back office functions also such as Virtual Desk Automation, 360 customer insights and adoption of latest digital methodologies such as Agile, DevOps. As part of this journey, the different challenges we faced was in attracting new customers and strengthening our relationship with them via better customer service, digitalisation of services and leading the innovation whilst keeping up with the pace of changes that are occurring in the digital realm.
The challenges we faced were:
• To develop a workforce that understands how to operate in a digital environment;
• Defining the factors that contribute to success and then measure performance;
• Redesigning the information and technology operating model to accelerate digital business execution.
What is the main goal of this transformation and how have things improved since?
• Build a digital platform robust and flexible enough to operate at a large scale;
• Create an open ecosystem for partners and technology;
• Enabling the business to adapt to new business models and to launch new kinds of products for new customers in new industries;
• Rapidly and innovatively delivering working products for changes inspired by real customer needs or regulatory requirements;
• Creating value from data through data analytics and then offering better services; • Delivering a personalised experience to customers.
Things that have improved since then:
• Agile development;
• DevOps adoption;
• Data analytics;
• Implementation of technologies like Open API platforms and blockchain enabling business to enter new markets;
• Personalised customer experience through portals and digital banking website.
Looking to the future, how do you see the digital aspects of banking evolving? How will multi-channel implementation change the way banks operate moving forward?
In the near future, the ecosystem around us is going to be digitally connected. The UAE government has a vision to be digital in the next couple of years and the banks are keeping up with that digital agenda.
Banks and financial institutions will have to operate in a larger digitalised infrastructure. The next stage will require the integration of these disparate pockets of technology into enterprise wide deployments that will vary widely. Multichannel implementation would give seamless digital banking experience to customers in the new connected world.