Jamal Saleh, Director General, UAE Banks Federation

In your capacity as Director General, UAE Banks Federation, please elaborate on the Together Against Fraud awareness campaign and how it is expected to decrease the threat of exposure to cybercrime among UAE residents.

The rapid development of technology and the increasing reliance on digital solutions have led many people to do their financial transactions entirely digitally. This accelerated shift towards digital banking services during Covid-19 has coincided with an upsurge in sophisticated fraud attempts.

While banks in the UAE have been continuously working on identifying and mitigating upcoming fraud threats, it is equally essential for customers to stay educated, continue to learn more about various fraud schemes which fraudsters undertake, as well as take extra caution regarding the safekeeping of their financial information. Being vigilant can significantly reduce the likelihood of falling victim to scammers.

Our UAE National Fraud Awareness Campaign comes in cooperation with the Central Bank of the UAE, Abu Dhabi Police, Dubai Police, Telecommunications Regulatory Authority and Digital Government, and with the effective contribution of all member banks in the UAE Banks Federation, to motivate customers to fight fraud by being informed.

The effectiveness and safety of financial and banking transactions depend on the awareness of all parties and each party taking the necessary measures for caution and protection in dealing with the risks of financial crime. Our Campaign is spreading awareness in all various forms, be it posts on social platforms, videos, infographics, SMSs to customers, emails, and sessions on radio and TV to spread awareness.

How has UBF’s approach to banking fraud changed over the last decade especially after the rise of cybercrime?

The UAE has introduced strict laws to punish fraudsters. At the same time, banks continue to invest heavily in anti-fraud measures and initiatives that are in line with international best practices. Our fraud awareness campaign is also part of the banks' efforts to fight fraud, as we need to stay ahead of fraudsters, which can only be achieved if we continue to work together.

Protecting both the customers as well as the banking industry against the risk of fraud is a key priority for UBF. Over the years, we have partnered with authorities in the UAE and organisations such as the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) to build frameworks to ensure safe banking practices. With support from our own UBF Fraud Prevention Committee and UBF Information Security Committee, we have organised, and continue to organise, numerous workshops and knowledge-sharing sessions for our member banks and their customers to highlight key (and new) fraud types and implement best practices in risk mitigation for all financial institutions.

The revenue for UAE banks is expected to soar to $25 billion by 2030. How will UBF play a pivotal role in this process?

The UAE has all the components needed to strengthen its position as a regional and a global financial hub, with regulations and legislation in the country being characterized by innovation and aligned with global changes in the sector. Since its founding in 1982, UAE Banks Federation has constituted an effective platform for exchanging ideas and opinions between all its members while strengthening cooperation among all on various issues of interest to the banking and financial sector in the UAE. In addition, UBF facilitates coordination and interaction with various stakeholders, building and enabling innovative solutions, enhancing governance standards, and promoting best practices in all aspects of banking.

UBF will continue to focus on creating a safe and smooth banking environment for all to enable its members to provide best services and products to our banking customers, to keep pace with international standards in terms of transparency, governance, and compliance with local and global laws and regulations, and to develop a competitive business system as well as create the appropriate conditions for the talent development, especially of our Emirati professionals.

How critical is Emiratisation in the evolution of the UAE banking sector and what is the role that UBF will plays here?

As I’ve said earlier, UBF has worked and continues to work on several initiatives to support and help drive Emiratisation in the banking and financial sector as well as build a mechanism to train Emirati cadres and create succession plans. To this end, UBF has joined hands with our own Central bank to ensure that all UBF members are assisted by the Federation to meet their targets of Emaratization as well as provide a best-in-class training and development of the Emarati manpower.

UBF has also established a first in the Middle East and North Africa SWIFT Training Centre, the first of its kind outside OECD countries, the aim of which is to improve the performance of the payments system, the effectiveness and security of the remittance system, and to benefit from the expertise of the members of the global network “SWIFT” in developing the skillset of the country’s banking and financial sector workforce, most importantly are the Emaratis.

What are the top four trends you predict will guide the UAE banking industry through this decade?

• Digitisation of the financial services will continue at a stronger pace, with partnerships with FinTechs.

• Managing and using data effectively will become a competitive advantage, be it in customer experience and service, or in compliance.

• A continued adjustment of operating models will prevail due to fast digitisation.

• Banks will expand their roles in customer life and experience throughout ecosystems, making a customer’s relationship a one stop shop that meets all the needs of the customer and as per customer’s expectations.