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UAE’s Mashreq launches digital-only bank

The UAE’s oldest bank has launched a digital-only offering, designed to appeal to the tech-savvy generation

Mashreq has launched a full service bank that will have no branches as it embarks on a digital transformation to appeal to a new generation of people.

Mashreq Neo, as it is known, from the UAE’s oldest bank, was designed to appeal to people who manage their lives through technology such as smartphones and social media.

Subroto Som, head of retail banking at Mashreq, said Mashreq Neo was created in response to evolving customer behaviour in the UAE, which is seeing the rapid take-up of financial technology (fintech) services.

“Today, we see customers of all ages spending a significant amount of time on their smartphones, and they demand convenience. They are active on social media, make purchase decisions based on recommendations, and they rank flexibility and convenience as their top reasons for choosing a bank,” said Som.

A recent EY study of more than 10,000 digitally active consumers globally found that around 3,000 were users of financial technology. Of these fintech users, 25.2% of 25- to 34-year-olds used two or more fintech services, with the figure expected to reach 47.8% in the foreseeable future, according to EY.

Read more about digital banking in the Middle East

“We are going branchless because our aim is to embed banking into the daily life of our busy customers, and not to force them to come to bank branches,” said Som.  

To this end, all banking services, including customer onboarding, sales, services, transactions and fulfilment, will be done via online and mobile platforms. The bank will support customers through digital channels, including a chatbot, and will add technologies as they become available.

Mashreq Neo will also provide access to international markets for investment opportunities, including foreign equities, gold trading and foreign currency accounts.

The digital bank is just the beginning of a large-scale and long-term transformation, according to Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair, CEO at Mashreq Bank.

“While Mashreq Neo is just the start, Mashreq Bank will continue to keep transforming to maintain its pioneer position in the market in terms of digital banking and innovation. As customers adopt and embrace new technologies, Mashreq will lead with new digital capabilities that enable banking in a convenient and secure manner,” he said.

In February 2017, Emirates NBD launched a digital bank to appeal to tech-savvy millennials by focusing on mobile services and social media.

The Liv. app, as it is known, is designed to learn and adapt to customer preferences. It is part of NBD’s planned investment of AED500m (£108m) in digital and multichannel transformation.

Read more on IT for financial services