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Retail banking trends in the Middle East in 2015. A review and forecast.

The Middle Eastern market with the UAE, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia – to name the most important – is a special one.

Customers in this region are used to receive an excellent service. Banks need to take care of this.

One way to try to attract and satisfy customers is the permanent investment into the latest available technology on the banking and finance market. More important than ever is the marketing point of view towards the market. Retail banks need to get media coverage to get customers attention. To obtain this they try to implement new features and even gadgets to be one step beyond their competitors.

This could be a fancy new application for smartphones or new functions to facilitate the daily bank account maintenance.

Digital banking is for sure one of the hottest topics in 2015, we can clearly observe this trend in the last 6 month of this year. The customers are paying more and more attention to get everything done on their smartphones so mobile banking is very important too.

Besides all the interest in mobile banking the banks in the Middle East are maintaining and increasing their network of brick-and-mortar branches in 2015.
Branches and especially flagship branches are important brand ambassadors. They need to be modern and stuffed with the latest available technology under the hood and visible to the customer to showcase the bank wants to be a technical and innovative market leader.

Branches are also important for the private and wealth banking. These segments need to be taken care of in a special way. The more customers are wealthy the better banks are caring about making them happy.
In the Middle East this is more important than in other regions as we all know.

Even if we can observe a global trend to find the “next big thing” speaking about big data we can remark that in the region banks still like to invest into this model to analyse their customers behaviour to try to bind them stronger to their brands by the different outcomes of the filtered big data flow.

One of the goals is to make it very convenient to manage the financial affairs by making it simple and easy for the customer to handle them.

An example for this concept is the way one can open an account in Saudi Arabia. You just visit a branch and you are all set. This means you will be able to open the account, and at the same time the bank will instantly issue your bank card.

There is no need to wait for a letter or to pick up the card later.

This could be done by Video Teller Machines even 24/7. After the KYC (Know Your Customer) procedure certain models of these machines can instantly issue the card too. The whole procedure can be assisted by a remote teller connected to the VTM via video conferencing technology.

Internet banking has to be reviewed because it is considered not easy enough use compared to smartphone based mobile banking in 2015. An application on a mobile device is much easier and more convenient to understand and to manage than using classical internet banking where you need to sit in front of a computer.
Banks in the Middle East are aware of this and keen to apply new technologies to keep the customers happy and loyal to their brand.

Mobile, digital banking is used for new marketing methods. Beacon technology seems not to be that interesting as thought. Using the customers device to penetrate it via the different social channels is one example of digital marketing.

The new generation of ATMs and VTMs have bigger screens, the VTMs (Video Teller Machines) often offer even two large screens (around 21″ – 22″) which are used for digital signage when there is no customer using them.

Video Teller Machines are welcomed in the Middle East. They are offering tons of new possibilities like 24/7 remote teller operated banking, cross selling via product specialists operating from the banks call center. This means they can be virtually everywhere be present where the banks are operating their VTMs.

Video Teller Machines entered the market in the Middle East to create teller less branches in 2015.
This concept will surely be used to quickly enhance the branch footprint of banks in shopping malls and metro stations.

Another trend in the Middle East is providing Islamic Banking to the customers. This is on the plate since several years now but still trendy in 2015. Opening other channels than the traditional ones could be the focus nowadays. This is an ongoing process.

Thank you for reading this article. 


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