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Rising consumer confidence spurs UAE banking digital transformation

By Puja Sharma

May 15, 2024

  • Banking in UAE
  • Central Bank
  • Customer Experience
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Islamic finance, Islamic banking, Bahrain

  • Accelerating digital transformation improves customer experience and provides customised services.
  • Emiratisation, sustainability, governance and supporting SMEs are our top priorities.
  • The performance of UAE banks confirms the strength and resilience of the banking sector, which is achieving solid financial metrics.

H.E. Abdulaziz Al-Ghurair, Chairman of UAE Banks Federation (UBF), the sole representative and unified voice of the UAE banks, said that the increase in consumer confidence in the UAE banking sector from 84% in 2022 to 90% in 2023 reflects its continuous development, as customer trust is an important pillar in banking and finance. He explained that the UAE ranks above the global average in the Trust Index and ranks higher than prominent international financial centres, which confirms the banking sector’s ability to meet the requirements of diverse customer segments.

Speaking at a press conference with local and international media organised by the UAE Banks Federation at Mashreq Bank’s headquarters in Dubai, His Excellency said: “Under the direct supervision of Central Bank of the UAE, the banking sector is striving for excellence, accelerating digital transformation and developing innovative solutions that leverage artificial intelligence, blockchain and data analytics to provide services that meet and exceed customer expectations, while enhancing the digital infrastructure and improving cybersecurity to provide a secure and seamless banking experience.”

The performance of UAE banks over the past years and the first quarter of this year confirms the strength and resilience of the banking sector and its ability to overcome challenges and achieve growth, as we have witnessed a significant increase in net profits, operating profits, revenues and assets with sound financial indicators characterised by high capital efficiency ratios, provisions and reserves that exceed the requirements of Basel 3 principles followed by global banking system. He emphasised the ability of UAE banks to deal with fluctuating international interest rates as they adopt proactive strategies to keep pace with the changes.

Ghurair noted, “Banking services in the UAE and the rest of the world are currently undergoing a profound transformation to meet the rapidly changing demands of the end-users and to keep pace with the technological revolution. This signifies the UAE banking sector’s leadership in adopting and developing digital solutions that provide customers with the best services in a secure and reliable banking environment. UAE Banks are also continuously modernising digital infrastructure to offer specialised services while enhancing APIs, cloud computing and digital channels.”

He also stressed the importance of investing in qualifying human capital to keep pace with the evolving changes and requirements, develop appropriate solutions and employ innovative technology by attracting, qualifying and training the cadres needed in the digital age, such as designers, engineers and data scientists.

He predicted that the trend towards digital banking experiences will accelerate, focusing on providing personalised and tailored financial services by leveraging data analytics and artificial intelligence to understand better and meet evolving customer needs, which requires driving innovation and focusing on customer satisfaction.

“The banking sector empowers customers to take better control of their finances, drives the development of leading products and services, promotes sustainability initiatives as a cornerstone of our business, supports environmental, social and governance (ESG) principles in our financing activities and supports companies that prioritise sustainability, contributing to a more sustainable future for all.” Said Al-Ghurair

“Emiratisation, sustainability, corporate governance and supporting SMEs are our top priorities, and we are committed to promoting and nurturing Emirati talent and increasing their participation in the banking sector. In this regard, one of our key initiatives is the launch of the Emiratisation Programme for the banking and financial sector, which is under the direct supervision of the Central Bank of the UAE,” he added.

“Banks in the UAE are endeavouring to integrate sustainability into their operations and services by offering green financing products specifically designed to support sustainable projects, including those for SMEs investing in renewable energy and sustainable technologies. With national banks pledging AED 1 trillion for sustainability projects by 2030, we expect to see a significant increase in green financing initiatives in the coming years and further steps towards a more sustainable banking sector,” he highlighted.

“We are keen to operate in accordance with the guidelines of the Central Bank of the UAE to ensure compliance with laws, regulations, supervisory and monitoring guidelines and to maintain the highest standards of corporate governance, transparency and risk management standards. We also recognise the central role that SMEs play in the economic and social development of the UAE, which is reflected in the provision of banking products and services that are tailored to the requirements of SMEs and support their growth and expansion.”

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