HOW COMMERCIAL BANK BECAME A LEADER IN DIGITAL BANKING IN 2018

Qatar 2019 | FINANCE | FOCUS: DIGITAL BANKING

Commercial Bank is using new technology, methods, and regulations to keep the bank at the forefront of the sector.

Banking has always been a fast-moving sector; however, today the pace of change is faster than ever, as banks around the world leverage technological innovation to improve customer experience, cut costs, and increase revenues.

Banks have embraced technology solutions such as cloud infrastructure, digital IDs, AI customer service, and fraud detection applications. Innovating quickly is necessary both to compete and to stand out—sometimes in tension with retaining customers' trust. At the same time, radically new payments systems, such as China's use of facial recognition and QR codes to transact at point of sale, suggest that banks will change beyond recognition in the future.

This is as true in Qatar as it is around the world. In 2018, Commercial Bank consolidated its position as the leader in digital banking in Qatar by embedding digital throughout its operations and introducing new products, services, and business units. The bank firmly believes technology can make customers' lives easier and cut operating costs by creating efficiencies.
Among its more notable strides into digital innovation, Commercial Bank reached a milestone of 1 million transactions through its 60 Seconds Remittance in 2018. The service, which allows customers to transfer money abroad in less than one minute online, was first launched for remittances to India in 2017. Since then, it has been rapidly expanded for remittances to Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and the Philippines, with Europe soon to follow. Because of its popularity with customers, it was named 'Best Remittance Service for the Middle East' at The Asian Banker's Excellence Services Awards 2018.
Another highlight of Commercial Bank's digital banking efforts in 2018 was the significant enhancements made to its mobile banking app. From April, the bank rolled out voice and facial recognition technology, allowing customers to navigate the app safely, securely, and quickly. The enhancements also included profile personalization and dashboard customization, with the app able to remember customers' most common transactions for repeated usage.

Not only has Commercial Bank implemented new digital products and services for its customers, it has also sought to apply new technology to improve its own back-end operations. Commercial Bank's operations and technology services were previously outsourced to India, though this function has been brought back in-house to Qatar through the creation of a new subsidiary in the Qatar Financial Centre: Commercial Bank Innovation Services (CBIS). CBIS celebrated its first anniversary in 2018 and is deploying world-class technologies for Commercial Bank's business such as straight through processing, robotics, and AI.

Commercial Bank's focus on its customers' digital banking preferences is complemented by providing a first class in-branch experience. In parallel with investment in new technologies, a new branch was opened in Doha Festival City mall in 2018, and two new branches located in Doha Metro stations are planned in 2019, aligning with Commercial Bank's changing client footprint. Continuing its investment in physical premises, Commercial Bank purchased a new head office for its Turkish subsidiary Alternatif Bank in 2018, bolstering operations abroad by moving all Alternatif Bank's 650 staff into a new, state-of-the-art headquarters at the Vadistanbul Bulvar complex in Istanbul.

Commercial Bank has a five-year strategic plan initiated in 2016 designed to reshape its business, build sustainable earnings, diversify risk, and achieve growth. In 2018, the market recognized Commercial Bank's efforts to do the right thing, coming in the form of a rise in share price and award wins such as 'Best Bank in Qatar' from Global Finance. Investment in innovation and technology to improve customer experience and increase operational efficiency are core components of this strategy, enabling the bank to cut out internal waste, launch new products for its clients, and develop new revenue streams. Commercial Bank and its subsidiaries reported a net profit of QAR1.26 billion for the nine months ending September 30, 2018 compared to QAR259 million for the same period in 2017—an increase of 486%.

As Commercial Bank's Group CEO Joseph Abraham said, “Innovation has always been at the heart of Commercial Bank since we introduced the concept of modern banking to Qatar in 1975. Our commitment to innovation continues today, and we have invested heavily to make digital part of our DNA and position Commercial Bank for a digital future."