by Fleming. Team

Suvrat Saigal, Managing Director & Head of Global Retail at National Bank of Abu Dhabi, shares his insights on the future of retail banking in the Middle East.


Suvrat Saigal
Managing Director & Head of Global Retail
National Bank of Abu Dhabi

1) What major spend areas do you feel will set the tone for the retail banking industry in 2017?

With the overall economic environment expected to remain subdued, banks are likely to prioritize their spending into areas that are either regulatory in nature or that help improve customer experience:

– Digitization of service delivery and processes (e.g. mobile wallet and P2P payment services, leveraging social media to enhance customer experience)
– Adherence to Increasing regulatory oversight (e.g. CRS/FATCA)
– Cybersecurity

2) What are the top three growth drivers in the MENA retail banking sector today?

1. Increased Government Investments in Infrastructure projects leading upto Expo 2020, FIFA 2022
2. Continued focus in personal lending, albeit at a slower rate than previous few years
3. Targeting the expat segments by tapping into cross-border payments and other retail products and services

3) What disruptive technologies do you feel banks need to look out for in 2017?

Ability to incorporate new technologies at an early stage will increasingly become a differentiator for banks. Disruptive Technologies like Internet of Things (IoT) have the potential to create the ability to understand customer needs real time and tailor solutions to the individual, something that customers have begun to expect from their service providers. Add to that, Augmented Reality (AR) technologies combined with the ability to interpret big data and you can transform customer  experience by merging the virtual and physical realities and making banking integrate seamlessly into everyday interactions.

4) How do you see the industry evolving in the next five years?

Over the next few years, a trend that’s been underway since the end of financial crisis is likely to accelerate-Increased commoditization of retail banking products. This, along with the competitive, low cost, low margin environment will force banks to differentiate based on a client focused strategy. ‘Customer centricity’  will require (1) operational and cultural transformation (2) increased investment in Digitization and (3) smart partnerships with market disruptors like fintech.
On the regulatory side, there is a strong likelihood of continued changes across capital/risk management as well as KYC/AML related aspects and banks will have to accommodate the new reality in their strategy.