Best Digital Banks Of The Middle East

Global Finance presented various awards for digital-banking excellence, and honored Middle East innovators, at a special ceremony in Dubai in September.

Global Finance presented various awards for digital-bankingexcellence, and honored Middle East innovators, at a special ceremonyin Dubai in September. Citibank first penetrated the Middle Eastern marketmore than 50 years ago. Today, it has more than30 offices and branches spread over 10 countriesin the region.

Not surprisingly, then, Citi was honored in ahost of categories in Global Finance’s Best Digital Banks awardsfor the Middle East region. The global giant was recognized asBest Corporate/Institutional Digital Bank for the entire region,winning additional regional “bests” on the corporate side forMobile Banking, Mobile Banking App and Innovation; andsimilar nods on the consumer side for Mobile Banking andfor Information Security and Fraud Management. The banknotched country-level wins for Most Innovative Digital Bankin Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar and theUAE, plus many other country-level subcategory awards.

“A clean sweep in all countries [in which] we operate,” EmreKarter, Citibank’s head of Treasury and Trade Solutions for theMiddle East, North Africa, Pakistan and Turkey, tweeted afterthe ceremony, “A proud moment!”Global Finance, a pioneer in recognizing the significance ofdigital banking, has been giving these awards for nearly twodecades. This year, the Middle East awards were presented at aspecial ceremony at Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai, following GlobalFinance’s Digital Banks and Innovators Conference on September25. The full-day networking event gathered over 200 high-profileattendees representing banks, fintechs and support organizationsto discuss trends, technology and the future of banking.

More than 240 financial institutions submitted entriesthis year. The awards are divided into two groups: one forCorporate/Institutional excellence and a separate set ofacknowledgements on the Consumer side. Middle East applicationscame from Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait,Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.“We’ve made quite a few changes this year to reflect the growingimportance digital banking has had on the whole financialindustry,” says Joseph Giarraputo, publisher of Global Finance.

For example, the 2018 Best Digital Banks awards included anew award for digital mortgage banking, a fast-growing marketall over the world and especially in the Middle East. The firstto be honored in the region as Best Digital Mortgage Bank isSaudi Arabia’s Bidaya Home Finance, established in 2015 bythe Saudi Public Investment Fund and the Islamic DevelopmentBank as a Shariah-compliant real estate finance company tohelp Saudi nationals acquire property.

The awards for Best Consumer Digital Bank in the MiddleEast, Best Integrated Consumer Banking Site and the regionalFinancial-Services Innovator honor went to Emirates NationalBank of Dubai. In 2017, Dubai’s largest bank in assets committedto a three-year, 1 billion Emirati dirham ($272 million)digital-transformation plan aimed at catering better to thechanging needs of its customers while maintaining a maximumlevel of security. Products it has launched recently include theregion’s first blockchain-backed checkbook; a live video chatservice with a personal banking adviser, called FaceBanking;and a mobile-only bank.

Regional winners on the consumer side also included MashreqBank, which won Best Mobile Banking App; Best SMS/TextBanking; and Best Online Deposit, Credit and InvestmentProduct Offerings. Arab Bank took Best Website Design and Bestin Social Media Marketing and Services. National CommercialBank was named Most Innovative Digital Bank for consumers.

For the fourth year in a row, Kuwait’s Boubyan Bank confirmedits leading position in Shariah-compliant banking, receiving honorsas the World’s Best Islamic Digital Bank as well as the region’sBest Islamic Digital Bank. Only 14 years old, Boubyan has developedproducts that combine innovation with Shariah compliance.

“This award crowns our efforts over a remarkable year indigital banking,” said Abdulla Al-Tuwaijri, deputy CEO ofBoubyan Bank. “It places Boubyan Bank on the same level asglobal banks and is a new achievement for Kuwait’s financialand banking sector.”

Aside from Citi, big regional winners in the Corporate/Institutional categories included Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank,named for Best Trade Finance Services and Best IntegratedCorporate Website; Ahli United Bank, credited with the BestOnline Cash Management;National CommercialBank, named for BestOnline Portal Services; andCommercial InternationalBank, which won BestInformation Security andFraud Management.

Global Finance also tookthis occasion to publiclyrecognize corporate andindividual regional winnersof Innovators honors.Omar Christidis, founderof Arabnet, a hub for Arabdigital professionals andentrepreneurs to connectand learn, was named thisyear’s individual Middle EastInnovator and also served askeynote speaker.

Emirates, the UAE’s largest airline, was named the MiddleEast’s top corporate innovator, for its forward-looking designsand operational strategies.“This year’s Middle East Innovators have broken new groundin their respective fields,” said Giarraputo. “We are proud to callattention to people and organizations that not only encourageand support creative thinking, but find ways to turn that thinkinginto viable solutions.”

The Middle East has a reputation as a fragmented regionfor banking, difficult to navigate across borders because ofthe disparities betweenmarkets. That’s one reasonGlobal Financedecided toname category winners ona country-level basis, ratherthan just regionwide.

In Consumer categories,that change gave Blom Banka clean sweep in Lebanon,and brought wins in Egyptfor Best Mobile Bankingand Most Innovative DigitalBank to Credit AgricoleEgypt. Samba and SABBshowed well in SaudiArabia, while Investbanknotched two wins in Jordan.

Arab Bank was the mostpanregional local, takinghome wins in five differentcountries, including Bank of Distinction honors in Bahrain,Jordan, Lebanon and Qatar.“Our staff in each country will be very happy that theirwork has been rewarded,” said Eric Modave, chief operatingofficer at Arab Bank.

World’s Best Digital Banks 2018 – Middle East Region

Consumer Sector Winners

Best Consumer Digital BankEmirates NBD
Best Integrated Consumer Banking SiteEmirates NBD
Best Digital Mortage BankBidaya Home Finance
Best Islamic National BankBoubyan Bank
Most Innovative Digital BankNational Commercial Bank
Best Online Deposit, Credit and Investment Product OfferingsMashreq Bank
Best Mobile Banking AppMashreq Bank
Best SMS/Text BankingMashreq Bank
Best in Mobile BankingCiti
Best Information Secutiry and Fraud ManagementCiti
Best Website DesignArab Bank
Best in Social Media Marketing and ServicesArab Bank
Best Bill Payment and PresentmentStandard Chartered

Corporate/Institutional Winners

Most Innovative Digital BankCiti
Best in Mobile BankingCiti
Best Mobile Banking AppCiti
Best Information Security and Fraud ManagementCommercial International Bank
Best Trade Finance ServicesAbu Dhabi Commercial Bank
Best Integrated Corporate WebsiteAbu Dhabi Commercial Bank
Best Online Portal ServicesNational Commercial Bank
Best Online Cash ManagementAhli United Bank