Middle East Retail Banking Confex concludes its 12th edition

Industry experts tackled current challenges, trends, innovations and technologies that are reshaping the banking landscape.

Dubai, 5th April: The Annual Middle East Retail Banking Confex successfully concluded its 12th edition today at The Le Meridien Hotel Dubai. The event hosted more than 200 delegates from leading Regional, International Retail Banks, Fintech companies and service providers, coming together to deliberate on the evolving retail banking landscape in the region.

The Middle Eastern retail banking industry today is growing at an unprecedented rate. With an increasingly savvy and demanding customer base, the industry is being driven by the way customers choose to interact with their banks. A high rate of mobile penetration in a majority of the Middle Eastern companies coupled with recent FinTech innovations has been a game changer for retail banking in the region. In order to thrive in the competitive retail banking space, banks need to focus on developing a true omnichannel experience for customers and staff alike.

“The world is going Digital and there is a huge focus on FinTech and clever products and fancy mobile solutions. The reality is that the key challenges we face today are bigger than most of these”. Said Akshaya Gaur, Chairman of the Conference and Founder & CEO of Aayan consulting

“Banks have, traditionally, focused on efficiency and not true relationships with their customers. More importantly, the better way to do banking has, usually, been about keeping the focus on what is better for the Bank. The time has come to realize that our goals are not just about efficiency or technology or products or operations, but about how we use these to add lifetime value to our customers’ lives. We need to build digital experiences that are truly centered around the customer by delivering personalized touchpoints and experiences. We need to start thinking about the customer journey outside-in rather than the other way around”. Gaur added.

With blockchain technology becoming one of the most used terms in retail banking, the Confex featured dedicated sessions on the FinTech disruption brought around by blockchain. In the near future, this technology may allow people to use Facebook or Google to pay their bills, making P2P transfers and analyzing their spending, while still having their money safely placed in their current bank account.

Giulio Segurini, Market Research Specialist at ARCA, said: “This year should be the validation of BlockChain. Will it truly have the impact expected on the industry? In the European Union, the PSD2 (Revised Payment Service Directive) will drastically reshape the Banking ecosystem. This could have a world impact as successful models are developed and other Banking economic areas develop similar directives for their industry”.

A special guru panel brainstormed strategies and explored facets of changing consumer expectation while sharing insights on the customer centric banking model. While talking about future trends in the regional banking industry Ehab Mahmoud Hassoubah, GM of Retail Banking Divisions at Bank Albilad, said: “I see banks in the region coming closer with telecom, fintech, and government entities. I also believe that banks will play a major role in enhancing the “savings” attitude amongst consumers, raising the bar on Customer experience and centricity, increasing dependency on transacting Online and through Kiosks in bank and non-bank premises (public areas), and increasing dependency on analytics and use of customer data”.

A dedicated exhibition showcasing the latest technological products and services, was running alongside the Conference. More than 25 international exhibitors participated, such as RB Technologies as the Strategic Chatbot Partner, Saudi Credit Bureau (SIMAH) and Qarar as Strategic Speaker Lounge Partners, Newgen as the Gold Sponsor, Simon, Kucher & Partners at the Silver Sponsor, Tata Consultancy Services as the Digital Transformation Sponsor, Temenos as a Boardroom Briefing Partner, Finesse, Cloud Cherry & Software Group as exhibitors while Loxon, Vayana, xpress Money and Backbase have partnered as the Associate Sponsors.

“Banks will become more empowering towards the consumer. Fintechs are developing chatbots, and narrow focused AIs that will be able to advise and provide transparent, and easy to understand financial solutions for loans, mortgages, pension funds, car loans, insurance…etc. These solutions will create a strong demand on the banking industry to become more user friendly. There will be a Financial App for everything from looking at the best possible mortgage and insurance package you can afford, to withdrawing/depositing cash and checks at anytime and anywhere”. Sigurini concluded.