Digital and financial innovations are driving increased customer demand and engagement for Commercial Bank of Qatar (CBQ). Amit Sah, Head of Retail Banking, highlights major milestones in the bank’s digital strategy and reveals bold ambitions to transform the industry.
Global Finance: What is CBQ's overall digital retail banking vision?
Amit Sah: Our strategic vision is to create a digital platform that is best-in-class globally. We strive to continually innovate to ensure we enhance the value we provide our customers across all their transactions.
While our ultimate long-term goal is to be 99%-plus digitised, we also pursue shorter term milestones to help implement this big-picture vision.
GF: How have you responded to increased customer demand for digital banking due to Covid-19?
Amit Sah, Head of Retail Banking, Commercial Bank of Qatar (CBQ).
AS: In my view the pandemic has accelerated digital adoption and migration by around three to five years across usage platforms. We were in some ways fortunate that we were well on our way towards creating a high value digital platform when the pandemic hit us. This operational readiness along with customer acceptance and appropriate communication led to rapid transformation in adoption and usage behavior.
GF: In the digital race among industry players, what makes CBQ distinctive?
AS: Our longstanding investment in technology has kept us at the forefront of digital transformation. We look to create intuitive solutions that are easy for customers to adopt and use.
For example, in April 2020, we launched the ‘CB Household Worker PayCard,’ Qatar’s first fully digital solution to manage household workers’ salaries and remittance. This immediately followed the launch of ‘CB Smart Payroll’ for company workers’ payments and remittance.
These reflect our efforts to redefine the payment ecosystem amid the goal of a cashless society, where everything can be done digitally by customers safely, securely and at unparalleled processing speed.
Since we had already launched contactless payments in 2018, we were ideally positioned to serve our customers’ need for ‘transaction hygiene’ during Covid-19.
Meanwhile, our international remittance platform can compete with any bank globally. We are currently processing around 500,000 transactions per month and can execute a transaction in under 60 seconds for a range of destinations, including India, the Philippines and Sri Lanka.
GF: How do you measure the effectiveness of your focus on innovation, communication and customer adoption?
AS: Our success is evident from the dramatic increase in our customer engagement with digital services.
In terms of channel preference, digital transaction volumes continue to grow as branch-based activity decreases. In line with this, digitally active customers have increased 224% since 2016. Further, while Qatar has a total population of roughly 2.7 million, our digital platform has already had 2.7 million logins during the first half of 2020.
GF: What’s next on your digitalisation agenda?
AS: We have supported behavioural change for our customers in terms of making payments and we have contributed to financial inclusion. The next big step for us is to provide digital offerings for our entire suite of wealth management solutions.
We expect to launch our digital wealth management platform by early 2021, with a full range of services starting with identifying a customer’s investment objectives and risk profile, through to asset allocation and execution.
CBQ is also in development with new initiatives, such as services for international remittance to non-commercial banking customers.