What are your views on bank branches?
While branches will always form an integral and irreplaceable part of the banking ecosystem, in the medium to long term we expect the role of the branch to evolve to serve customers based on their specific needs and the neighbourhood they reside in.
Most notably, for those who require deeper personal engagement and advisory services such as purchasing a home, financing a business or making high involvement decisions, branches will play a key role in offering financial advice and enhancing their banking experience.
However, for day-to-day banking transactions, branches will become increasingly digital with a range of self-service options including ITMs (Interactive Teller Machines); cash deposit/withdrawal machines and virtual RM (virtual Relationship Manager) that will make transactions simpler and quicker.
Technology will help the branch staff provide 360-degree view of the customer and avoid routine steps like waiting, customer verification, etc. thereby offering a much better experience. Mashreq has already embarked on a digital transformation journey integrating technology, new skills and innovative ways of banking to offer customers a remarkable experience. Our goal at Mashreq is to become the region’s most progressive branch network.
How does Mashreq Neo consolidate customer needs?
Customers today are accessing a multitude of services from a diverse range of providers, directly via their smartphone. Whether it is for shopping, paying bills or accessing government utilities, the smartphone is ubiquitous.
Mashreq Neo goes one step further down the digital highway. The banking services via Neo offer a fully-fledged digital bank encompassing a comprehensive suite of services across the customer’s lifecycle—from customer onboarding, engagement and service.
With the bank in the palm of their hands, customers can now open accounts instantly, review their transaction history, make payments internationally, trade in stocks and gold, invest in funds and enjoy lifestyle experiences/offers via the app. Several other attractive propositions like online and real time insurance and loans are in the pipeline making Neo a compelling banking experience.
What were the goals of introducing this to the market? Expectations of customers from banks are shaped by their experiences in other industries. Today a customer compares a bank’s service not just with other banks but also with non-banking players including eCommerce companies and start-ups. It is therefore imperative for banks to be nimble and agile while being secure and safe. Given this context, we saw an opportunity to reshape banking via Neo.
The aim was to provide a complete banking experience to the ‘Connected Generation’ in a simple, swift and safe manner. When we say the ‘Connected Generation’, we mean anyone who is comfortable and familiar with the use of smartphones to perform daily activities.
Where do you see Mashreq Neo going in the next few years?
The customer response to Neo during the past one year has been overwhelming. Over 70 per cent of our customers use the Neo app over 10 times a month. The Neo Referral Programme, where a Neo customer refers his/her their friends for a Neo account has proved to be extremely popular with our customers and a key factor for the rapid growth in sales.
Today, we acquire three times the number of customers vis-a-vis the mainstream bank. Given this, we are confident that Mashreq Neo will grow, not just in terms of customer numbers but also in terms of customer engagement, transactions and service.
As we increase focus on customer education and develop compelling banking propositions on digital/mobile, we anticipate more and more customers to migrate from traditional banking to ‘digitalfirst’. Our aim is to be available to our customer at the time and place they need us and through their preferred device.
Currently, over 95 per cent of the banking transactions at Neo are done via remote channels. I believe that it’s only a matter of time before we see digital and mobile becoming mainstream for customers across their entire banking journey.
How important is a digital bank in today’s banking landscape?
Digital banks are undoubtedly the future of the banking landscape. Personalisation, convenience and transparency are now not a ‘a nice to have’ but critical factors in creating happy customers. A digital bank is better placed at providing these customer three benefits in addition to making banking simple and secure.
As with any change, people will need time to become familiar and get comfortable. However in the near future, consumers adapt, adopt and ultimately demand services from digital only banks, for an easier, simpler and a more secure banking experience.