Leading Digital Banking Innovation in Bahrain and Beyond

Bahrain is emerging as a major financial innovation hub, and Ahli United Bank is driving the country’s FinTech evolution, with market-leading digital products and services that are shaping the future of banking.

One of Bahrain’s largest financial institutions, Ahli United Bank (AUB) is at the forefront of digital transformation. Its mass adoption of FinTech services resulted in exceptional performance despite economic turbulence, and AUB has won multiple accolades for financial performance, growth, and digital innovation.

AUB is among the global banking networks that has accelerated its digital transformation to improve operational efficiency and enhance services to retail customers, private banking clients, small and medium- sized companies, and larger multinational corporates and financial institutions. Its digital strategy is designed to provide AUB Group with fully digital banking capabilities and develop broad-based, data-driven culture capabilities that improve efficiency, enhance customer satisfaction, and strengthen its competitive edge.

Customer-focused digital strategy

Understanding customer needs is essential to effective digital transformation. AUB’s digital transformation is based entirely on its data about the specific needs of customers and clients.

The challenge of understanding customer needs is that they are varied and continually evolving. This is particularly true in retail banking, where AUB is driving digital transformation through multiple initiatives catering to their customers’ diverse requirements. For example, AUB opened its first digital branch in Kuwait, became the first bank in Bahrain to provide video and WhatsApp banking, launched a visual interactive voice response (VIVR) offering, and implemented digital onboarding for savings accounts.

Digital transformation has taken on greater relevance during the COVID 19 pandemic, but it represents the future of retail banking where multiple needs are met through a digital offering.

Empowering private banking

For private banking, customer needs change from one generation to the next. Responding to these generational differences is vital to an effective digital transformation strategy in this business.

Protecting wealth for the next generation is a top priority, and enhanced data analytics is transforming the private banking customer experience and empowering individual investment and wealth management decisions. With digital enhancements, customers can more easily manage short- to medium-term investments and invest for the long term.

Advisory services are crucial to any private bank’s value proposition, and their power relies primarily on effective data and analytics. AUB’s digital solutions give customers more control of their investment portfolios because they can see value-added analysis at any time and respond quickly to automated alerts about material changes in their investment performance.

Bespoke & customizable solutions

Corporate banking and treasury are among AUB’s most technologically advanced businesses. AUB is consistently increasing annual investment in these areas to keep pace with technological advancement and client demands.

Using its considerable FinTech capabilities, AUB developed some of its own corporate and treasury solutions, particularly for services relying on highly sensitive proprietary data or technology infrastructure. AUB’s tech platforms and digital applications also enable corporate clients to securely transact and analyse their own data.

AUB also continues to innovate its market-leading digital cash management solution called B2B. This desktop and mobile solution can be customised for different accounting systems and enables efficient management of payments online.

Bahrain and beyond

In addition to ramping up its own digital strategy, AUB is spearheading digital transformation for Bahrain’s banking sector. As a founding partner of Bahrain Fintech Bay, the country’s FinTech innovation accelerator and the largest hub dedicated to supporting FinTech innovation, AUB is playing an instrumental role in making Bahrain a major destination for FinTech investment and stimulating business sector growth.

AUB’s digital prowess is also supporting its expansion strategy, which aims to acquire banks and regulated financial services companies in the Gulf countries with minimum 10% potential market share.

As banking becomes increasingly commoditized, the key differentiators for banks will be the customer experience and access to data they provide. Banks like AUB that give customers the ability to utilise their own data easily and effectively will become essential partners that help them shape their future.

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