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Emirates NBD makes a big leap forward in hi-tech banking

Bank’s Future Lab gives a glimpse of digital offerings in the pipeline

Image Credit: A.K Kallouche/Gulf News
The new hi tech Emirates NBD branch at Emirates Towers. The futuristic banking space showcases an array of realistic, and in many cases, already functional digital solutions.
Gulf News

Dubai: Emirates NBD, UAE’s largest lender as at the close of the first half of 2016 is in a hurry to bring world’s best digital banking experience to its customers. True to its pioneering spirit in innovations, the bank has recently unveiled the 4,094-square-foot branch at Emirates Towers that features the Emirates NBD Future Lab.

The futuristic banking space showcases an array of realistic, and in many cases, already functional digital banking solutions that are nearing roll out to the bank’s customers.

Earlier this year the bank committed Dh500 million over the next three years towards digital innovation and the multichannel transformation of its processes, products and services.

The bank’s investment is focused on five key areas, such as end-to-end process transformation; smoother, faster and more responsive customer interface; Omni channel experience, fortification of cyber security and anti-fraud capabilities; and enhancement data management and analytics, all underpinned to the UAE’s “smart city” initiatives to offer a seamless and enhanced customer experience.

“Emirates NBD Future Lab is just one part of our investment in our digital banking initiatives. This is not about creating solutions all by ourselves rather it is an effort to collaborate with existing partners and clients in the private and public sector as well as identify fintech innovators to create pioneering concepts for prototyping,” Suvo Sarkar, Senior Executive Vice-President & Group Head — Retail Banking & Wealth Management at Emirates NBD told Gulf News in an interview.

Robot assistant

The exhibits at the Future Lab give a glimpse of digital offerings in the pipeline ranging from the already rolled out video personal teller to some of the futuristic offerings such as an in-car banking system, “Pepper”, a humanoid robot assistant, a virtual reality shopping service and a voice banking service based on the new Amazon Echo device.

The bank is working in close partnership with its partners, customers and staff to adopt innovations that are practical, useful and customer centric. The Future lab is part of that quest for innovation and technology adoption.

“What we are trying to do here is to introduce new ideas to our customers in collaboration with our partners and observe what is more useful and decide on what technology we should invest in the future,” said Sarkar.

In its multichannel approach towards customer empowerment, the bank is under no illusion that all innovations they attempt will be successful and or will be accepted my customers. “At the digital lab we showcase potential digital solutions to our customers and gauge their response closely to understand what customers really want. Customer response will be key to the future roll-out of any new product or solution,” he said.

Digital services

Emirates NBD has already launched major digital banking initiatives in support of the country’s “smart city” vision. It is the only bank in the UAE to offer e-payment capabilities through all bank channels for over 25 major service providers, varying from telecom, utilities, transportation, card schemes, and education sectors, among others. The bank has also introduced a series of digital banking services. Customers can perform over 100 transactions including making requests for new products and service via Emirates NBD’s online and mobile banking channels.

“We believe that we are far ahead of most of our peers including international banks operating in the country in adopting the digital vision of the government. Our Future Lab project neatly ties in with the Museum of the Future project and wider technology adoption in the banking space. Our board and management have been hugely supportive in our efforts,” Sarkar said.


Factbox: Blockchain to drive wholesale banking innovations

Emirates NBD last week launched a pilot blockchain network for banking services which will drive its wholesale banking innovations in the future.

Blockchain, which originates from digital currency bitcoin, works as an electronic transaction-processing and record-keeping system that allows all parties to track information through a secure network, with no need for third-party verification.

Emirates NBD and India’s ICICI India’s bank have partnered with Infosys Finacle to trial blockchain technology across multiple banking and payment services. The new technology is expected to reduce cost and transaction time significantly.

The bank said the trade finance purchase order and invoice financing cycle tests conducted showed a near real-time transfer of invoices and purchase orders in a transparent and secure manner. The trial represents the latest efforts among banks worldwide to use the technology to facilitate faster, lower-cost transactions.

For the tests, the blockchain network was integrated with the Infosys Finacle core banking and other host systems within the pilot technology environments on both banks and was designed to be least disruptive to existing systems and processes, allowing the banks to seamlessly plug in their systems and process to work with blockchain technology.