Dubai: HSBC plans to open a number of digital branches in the UAE to reach out to its fast-growing tech-savvy customers, according to Marwan Hadi, HSBC’s UAE head of Retail Banking and Wealth Management.

The bank on Monday opened its digitally-driven Customer Service Unit (CSU) at Mirdiff City Centre, which features a digital interaction rate of 80 per cent — empowering customers though self-service facilities.

Using this template of design and functionalities, HSBC plans to open more such units in the UAE, mostly in malls where customers can complete most of their retail banking transactions digitally.

“The new digital branch design is the first of its kind for HSBC globally,” said Hadi.

“We have sought to redefine the brick-and-mortar banking experience through a totally digital concept. Customers can still perform most of the typical banking tasks that they would in a traditional CSU — they just do so digitally, on tablets, smartphones, digital touchscreens and interactive digital workstations.”

The all-digital branch has a paper-free environment for customers, with service staff equipped with customised smartwatches to alert them when a customer needs help, and with requests activated by SMS. By using tablets and touchscreens to fill out digital e-forms, customers can open a new account and apply for a credit card instantly. Any signatures required are recorded digitally on tablets.

Where customers have financial advisory and wealth needs, a relationship manager can be contacted conveniently via video-conference.

Hadi expects to open as many as three CSUs over next year. Equipped with self-service kiosks, customers can instantly emboss and print their HSBC debit and credit cards and cheque books, and leave the CSU with all their account tools in hand.

“Our data shows that the majority of our customers already use online and mobile banking to manage their accounts, make payments and transfer funds,” said Hadi. “Person-to-person interactions remain limited to wealth advice, insurance, mortgage and financial planning conversations. Our new digital concept demonstrates our commitment to deliver a simple, convenient, fast and secure banking experience, whichever way customers choose to connect with the bank,” Hadi said.

HSBC sees strong potential for retail assets growth. Given the economic outlook, the bank sees greater growth in numbers as it gains market share in this segment. As part of its new retail expansion strategy, the bank is investing in digital solutions and frontline staff.