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Middle East's best bank transformation 2018: Commercial International Bank

A merger over a decade ago created what is in 2018 the Middle East’s best bank, Emirates NBD. In 2017, another merger created the region’s biggest bank. So far, the signs suggest FAB will be successful. But in 2018, the bank that wins best bank transformation is Commercial International Bank (CIB). CIB has made an impressive shift over the last decade and a half from its origins as a relatively small corporate-focused bank towards a sustainably profitable institution that offers international investors exposure to the Egyptian consumer story. Hisham Ezz Al Arab has been chairman and managing director throughout this period.

CIB further shifted its funding mix further towards current and savings accounts in 2017. These account types made up more than half its total customer deposits by the end of the year, while its consumer and business banking deposits grew by 15% during the year.

CIB’s number of branches and employees has more than doubled since the early 2000s, yet it remains exceptionally efficient, with a cost-to-income ratio barely above 20%. The growth of physical infrastructure has been an important factor in its success and it ramped up the installation of ATMs in 2017.


Hisham Ezz Al Arab

At the same time, the bank is going through the next stage of its transformation, to make it sure is a retail and commercial bank worthy of the digital era; one even better able to take advantage of the growth in both Egypt’s total population and its middle class. It is in the midst of a concerted push in banking for small and medium-sized enterprises, for example, adapting its staff, branches, IT platform and data management accordingly.

Across the bank, CIB is acting on the recognition that systems to harness customer data will be key to its future, with programmes such as identity scoring in microfinance. It can use thousands of data points, from phone and utility bills to social media presence, to help lend when a customer lacks formal credit history.

CIB has put together a team of 70 data scientists, analysts and governance experts. This has helped the bank better segment customers – according to financial behaviour and not just assets and employment – and it is doing more to look beyond single bank balances to determine a client’s wealth.