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Standard Chartered accelerates UAE digital push

Bank plans to upgrade its digital services in UAE to be on par with key markets

Dubai: Standard Chartered, a bank with strong footprints across Asia, Middle East and Africa, is to take digitisation of banking services in the UAE to its global standards, Michael Gorriz, Group Chief Information Officer, told “Gulf News”.

“We are fully prepared for digital business,” said Gorriz. “We have all the tool sets and systems in place to serve the UAE and all other markets where we operate. In each market we explore the regulations to see what is possible within the regulatory framework.”

In the UAE, government initiatives are digitising both personal and business data. Gorriz said this would expedite the digital transformation of banking services here.

Multiple service points

Standard Chartered has rolled out various levels of digital banking offerings in several of the markets it operates. In nine African countries, the bank has fully digitised operations — from onboarding of customers to delivery of all possible consumer banking products and services based on mobile apps.

“Whatever one wants from a bank, we are targeting to deliver on online and or mobile platforms,” said Gorriz. “The UAE national expectation of a normal banking service delivery is about a few seconds and Standard Chartered is gearing up to deliver these to the customer.”

In most markets, including the UAE, the bank is targeting to have a digitally capable banking service combined with some human interface where necessary. The Africa model is a digital-only one, but only offering basic banking services.

But in the UAE and most of Asia, the bank sees combination of digital services and some limited amount of branch-based services that will form the essence of its digital strategy.

Regulatory changes

Gorriz said regulatory transformation is happening around the world to support banking and financial sector digitisation.

“Regulators are changing rules to facilitate digital banking,” he said. “Increasingly, in many jurisdictions most personal data is available with the national identification document that can be verified from the public register. Application of face recognition technologies and bio-metric data are making digital verifications simpler.”

In the UAE, the existence of government-verified digital identity makes it easier for banks to offer digital services. The degree of automation in business banking is very different because of the level of digitisation within these companies.

“Business across the world are realising the need to digitise their data and this will make the roll-out of digital business banking services easier,” he said,

Fintech collaborations

Standard Chartered is working closely with several technology companies, including fintechs, to speed up its tech transformation. For Gorriz, technology transformation in banking is unlikely to happen overnight.

“Technology is evolving so fast. I don’t think that we’ll be done in three or four years — the journey will continue. What we are most focused on is delivering banking to our clients the way they want to be served. Our tech initiatives are more like a collection of smaller entities. We don’t want to do everything by ourselves.”

Aside from internal efforts to beef up its digital offerings, Gorriz said the bank has established partnerships with fintech companies to find and “use the best ideas that are out there”. “The way we engage them is within an environment very similar to their own,” he adds.

This environment is achieved through the bank’s “eXellerator innovation lab”, which was inaugurated in Singapore in 2016, and recently expanded to Hong Kong and London.

Michael Gorriz joined Standard Chartered as Group Chief Information Officer in July 2015. He joined from Daimler AG, where he was vice-president and CIO with responsibility for the smooth operation of all Daimler systems and the management of IT projects.