Banks in the The Gulf Cooperation Council region (GCC) have undergone their own digital transformations in how it caters to customers
Banks Fintech Middle East & Africa

Analysis: Banks in the Gulf Cooperation Council Embracing Digital Solutions

The Gulf Cooperation Council region (GCC), consisting of Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has a wide range of traditional banks catering to the needs of their customers – both in the region and beyond. With the theme of digital transformation sweeping across the world, this has also included them to embrace innovative solutions as well – both fintech and wider tech. Here are some recent announcements and examples of banks in the GCC that have implemented new fintech solutions.

Banks in the The Gulf Cooperation Council region (GCC) have undergone their own digital transformations in how it caters to customers
Banks in The Gulf Cooperation Council region (GCC) have undergone their own digital transformations in how it caters to customers IMAGE SOURCE GETTY

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) launches digital booking service for branch appointments

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) has launched its digital booking service enabling customers to schedule their branch visits ahead of time through the ADIB online banking platform. The remote booking service allows for less waiting time and reduces crowding by providing control over ADIB branches’ capacity limits as per UAE social distancing guidelines.

In recent months, ADIB has recorded high levels of digital adoption across its retail and corporate banking services. Nearly 60% of ADIB’s retail customers have used digital channels, registering more than 2 million transactions every month as customers engage in a wide range of banking activities, such as applying for cards and financing or paying bills. Overall, ADIB has invested heavily in the development of new digital banking and payments solutions that offer a simple and convenient experience to UAE businesses and residents. This has been led by the bank’s innovation centre, ADIB Simple Lab, which encourages close collaboration between ADIB’s innovation team and the business community, including the capability to incubate, test, and implement innovative fintech services.

Bank Muscat launched a single-click Eid gift feature in its mobile banking

Muscat, the capital and largest city of the Sultunate of Oman, is home to Bank Muscat, which is the country’s leading financial services provider in Oman. They, as part of keeping with its vision ‘To serve you better, everyday’ and commitment to customer-centric services launched a new feature in its mobile banking app, which allowed a customer to make Eidiya (Eid gift) transfers within the bank to multiple accounts with just one click. Eid Al Adha one of two Islamic holidays celebrated worldwide by Muslims; this year it fell from July 30th – August 2nd.

Boubyan launches Fitbit Pay & Garmin Pay services

Kuwait-headquartered Boubyan Bank has recently announced the launch of its new payment service for its Visa debit, credit and prepaid cardholders, using Fitbit and Garmin smartwatches. This comes as a part of the bank’s keenness on providing the best digital services to its customers. In this context, Yousef Al Majed, Executive Manager – Cards Products said, “This new service will enable our customers to make their payments via NFC-enabled P.O.S. machines using Fitbit Pay and Garmin Pay inside and outside Kuwait”.

Al Majed added, “This service is part of the UTap service being used by Boubyan Bank’s customers in their contactless payment transactions, which was provided by Boubyan for the first time in Kuwait back then. In this crisis, using innovative NFC-enabled digital payment methods has become a pressing need in a bid to avoid the direct use of cash in line with the instructions of Kuwait health authorities and the Central Bank of Kuwait.”

HSBC UAE launches online trading platform for its wealth clients

HSBC has launched a new online trading platform, enabling its retail customers in the UAE to trade shares and exchange-traded funds on major stock exchanges in real-time. The trading platform is integrated into the HSBC UAE Personal Internet Banking portal, meaning customers will be able to conveniently and securely manage their accounts, savings and investments in one place.

Dan Robinson, the Head of Wealth and Personal Banking at HSBC UAE, said, “I am delighted that we have launched our online trading platform. We know that our customers expect to be able to manage all their banking needs online, from anywhere in the world. They are now able to submit real-time trades with access to global exchanges and live market data, and I have no doubt that they will recognise the speed and ease of trading that this new platform provides.”

National Bank of Oman adds cardless ATM transactions to its digital banking service

In its efforts to meet the ever-evolving needs of its customers, National Bank of Oman (NBO) has added cardless ATM transactions to its roster of digital banking and payment solutions. Convenient and secure, the new withdrawal feature allows customers to get cash at the ATM using only their smartphones. Making the transaction as easy as logging into the mobile app, requesting a secret code, which is valid for 24 hours, and entering it on the ATM screen. Quick and safe, it’s just one of the innovative services the bank has introduced to make people’s lives easier.

John Chang, Chief Retail Banking Officer at NBO, said, “Along with all of our services, our ATM channel continues to evolve alongside user expectations. Our new solution offers quick access to cash whenever needed. As the world moves ever more online, we are committed to offering products and services that are convenient, secure, and ultimately deliver a superior customer experience, so that we continue being the “bank of choice.”

Emirates NBD completes customer migration to Smart Pass

Dubai-headquartered Emirates NBD has completed the successful migration of its customer base to the Smart Pass service to support safer digital transactions. The roll-out of Smart Pass is part of the bank’s long-term commitment to safe, secure banking and supports Emirates NBD’s ongoing initiatives to align with global best practices in banking security. Available on the bank’s Mobile Banking App, Smart Pass is a soft token generator that enables customers to authorise digital transactions using highly secure encryption standards, offering strong two-factor authentication as an added layer of protection beyond just a username and password.

According to Suvo Sarkar, Senior Executive Vice President, Head of Retail Banking & Wealth Management at Emirates NBD, “At Emirates NBD, customer safety is our top priority, and we are constantly developing new ways to make online transactions more secure, convenient and hassle-free. As fraudsters develop increasingly sophisticated means of accessing personal information, solutions such as Smart Pass are critical to help safeguard consumers in a digital age so that they can conduct secure transactions, easily and quickly, from anywhere in the world.”


  • Executive Economic Development Advisor (Emerging Markets) | Contributor

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