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MENA as a test bed

Were you at SIBOS in September? If so, did you get a chance to see how new products, services and technologies are being rolled out in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region?

During my last trip there, I was struck by the lack of legacy systems that traditionally hinder some other markets. And when I spoke to insiders I found that, thanks to its lack of red tape, the region has become a valuable test bed for banks, offering them the chance to create services that are truly fit for the 21st century.

If you’ve chatted with any of the top bank brands in the region, you’ll soon realise that they think differently, seeing challenges as opportunities and using the latest regulations to drive their businesses forward. And the rewards are worth it: stronger customer relationships, greater systems efficiency and improved risk management that delivers more sustainable returns.

This got me thinking. With favourable tax regimes and independent legal and regulatory systems, MENA provides a perfect location for global banks to test out their latest technology that will improve the customer experience. What’s more, with fewer regulations to comply with, the Middle East’s banking market could be ripe for pay-as-you-go business models such as Software as a Service (SaaS).

Take the UAE’s top bank, the National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD). Its use of SaaS has seen it implement a relationship-based pricing and enterprise billing solution for its business banking division. Sounds mundane? Think again. The solution is aimed at reducing revenue leakage. And, because it is being rolled out as a pay-as-you-go service, the approach offers NBAD major capital expenditure benefits as well as cutting total cost of ownership (TCO).

I reckon NBAD has got it just right. It realises how important the customer experience is. That’s why the bank has ensured that the solution enables it to provide its customers with exceptional service by optimising and rationalising multiple price lists across all product silos to increase operational efficiency. For relationship managers, this means an integrated view of the relationship value that also enables them to track customer commitment. Plus they can guarantee their customers a seamless and proactively managed experience, personalised to meet their specific needs.

Another NBAD project sees it phasing in the next generation of global, commercial, real-time transaction services to personalise its offerings to its 35,000-plus business banking customers. Using real-time customer analytics and a comprehensive product management workbench, this system also gives the bank’s relationship and product managers an integrated view of the relationship value and lets them track customer commitment.

MENA was the centre of attention during SIBOS in Dubai in September. By using the region as a test bed for financial services innovation, allowing banks to make much-needed infrastructure changes on a small scale before rolling them out internationally, it must be in pole position to remain in the banking spotlight for some time to come.




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