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Boubyan Bank on driving digital innovation

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For many financial institutions it has become more crucial than ever to have a digital transformation strategy to drive growth and become future ready. If banks are to remain competitive they need to find ways to accelerate digital innovation. In an interview Abdullah Abdulkareem Al-Tuwaijri, CEO of consumer, private, and digital banking at Boubyan Bank explains how the bank's digital transformation strategy is shaping the future of the bank.

No doubt Boubyan Bank has been undergoing a digital transformation over the past few years. What have been the key objectives of this transformation strategy and what has been achieved so far?

Since Boubyan Bank'sinception, we have strived to demonstrate that islamic banking is modern, attractive and digital through the products and services we offer.

Our business segments are split into customer-facing digital products platforms and channels (such as our retail app, corporate app, chatbot, and website) and internal digital products and services (such as the intranet and robotic process automation).

For the bank, digital transformation is a key priority and we have outlined three key areas that need to be met to deliver a successful digital transformation strategy.

The first is improving customer satisfaction; so far we have bee rated highly in terms of the Boubyan app as well as customer satisfaction, which has been further emphasised through the positive feedback we get on social media.

Second is increasing revenues; our digital channels are the main source of leads to the bank for our products, such as digital murabaha (a service where you can apply for new or additional financing), credit cards, and fixed deposits.

Third is reducing costs; utilising digital solutions to automate and re-engineer processes to reduce time and errors for major processes in the bank.

Furthermore, the continually dynamic competitive market within the banking and fintech industry means we are continually innovating to offer new services to our customers, especially for those who need our services when their abroad.

For instance, there are many Kuwaiti citizens who spend a lot of their time and money the UK, whether it's to study there, invest in real estate or who are there on holiday and in some of these cases might need assistance in opening a UK bank account, which could prove to be difficult.

As a solution to this problem, Boubyan recently launched Nomo, the first ever Islamic UK digital bank.

A customer in Kuwait can now open a UK based bank account while they're in Kuwait and within minutes have access to a multitude of banking services.

Can the bank demonstrate its digital transformation strategy and what has been achieved is helping to support and drive the bank’s financial performance i.e. driving higher revenues, reducing the cost-income ratio etc.?

We have several metrics to measure how digital transformation has improved Boubyan’s bottom line.

Our focus is on three key areas: first the customer; we are one of the most recognised banking brand among the youth and we have the highest market share, revenues.

Second our digital channels; this enables customers to interact with the bank in relation to onboarding, financing, investment and cards.

Our third focus is monitoring costs. With our customers visiting the branches less as most of their needs can be attended to via the app.

We have also improved many back-end processes, which have reduced operational costs throughout the year.

All of these key areas of focus for Boubyan Bank have improved our balance sheet and income statement across the years.

Innovation will be an important piece in the success of the bank’s digital banking offering. In each of the bank’s three main business areas – retail banking, corporate banking, and wealth management – what digital innovations would you highlight that are making a material difference to customers and corporate clients?

Our retail mobile app is accessed by 80% of our total customer base and 90% of our youth segment (those aged 17 to 22 years old), who compromise a fifth of our customer base.

For Kuwaiti youth, a savings culture barely exists due to several societal factors, however that needs to change in response to unstable oil prices in the region.

Given our cultural understanding and that the youth segment is interested in gamification, we decided to expand into that area with the launch of the fils challenge, Kuwait's first savings challenge, in October 2021.

Customers are invited to join a year-long challenge through the Boubyan app that helps them automatically save money on a daily basis, with the goal of saving a predefined amount by the end of it.

In a society where a savings culture barely exist, the challenge has created excitement around saving and is helping Boubyan Bank customers easily achieve their saving goals and sparks a competitiveness in them.

To date, over 100K subscriptions to the service have been recorded in less than six months.

What digital innovations in products and services is the bank developing and planning to launch in the future?

In 2018, Boubyan Bank set up its digital innovation centre with the aim of rapidly launching products and services without being held back by legacy systems.

It was important for us to create a team that could drive business growth, embrace technology and deliver customer-centric solutions.

As we continue to serve our customers, we are exploring and developing several digital services in the fields of payments, financing, and savings.

To read more articles by Boubyan Bank in this series, see below:

Boubyan Bank plans corporate banking expansion