The Shape of Things to Come From Legacy to Digitimacy


Implement Big Data Solutions, increase the availability and transparency of services and reduce the need of human intervention.


Is the banking industry in the Middle East ready to overcome the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic? The Banking sector is going through a massive transformation phase.

The Banking sector in the Middle East is one of the world’s fastest growing markets. Banks across the region are investing heavily to match or outperform their international competitors. Changes in consumer behaviors, digitization and emerging technologies has increased the complexity of the banking industry, the demand for realtime interaction and the need for better experiences across channels.

Governments in the Middle East pushed for Digital Transformation in the banking sector during services entities to acquire and invest in the technology business.

Source: Zawya Thomson Reuters; Strategy & Analysis,
From: Preparing for the digital era: The state of digitalization in GCC businesses, 2016

Key Challenges in Banking Sector

Price Transparency for Products:

Customers in the banking sector are getting confused with the actual costs of transactions. While bank staff is usually aware of the tariffs and cost structures, they are not aware of other fees such as external transfers. This leads many customers to consider banking with another institute which has more transparency in cost structures.

Unpredictable Availability of Infrastructural Recourses:

Due to lockdowns, the lack of availability of physical infrastructural resources, such as physical branches or call center operating equipment, will hinder the quality of customer service and may increase the retrieval time of certain information massively.

Waiting Time of Call Centers:

As the physical branches might not be available due to lockdowns, there will be a huge increase in the dependency on call centers, which may not be prepared to handle the increase in the volume of received calls and requests. Additionally, if there is an actual physical location of the call center, it might be contaminated and forced into closure.

Difficulty Maintaining SLAs and Controls:

Maintaining the Service Level Agreements- SLAs (with Customers) and Operational Level Agreements – OLAs (internally) might become difficult, especially when there will be measures and limitations on the number of employees available to handle the tasks, and the number of customers allowed to be served at the same time.

Increased Operational Risk:

Banks are faced with increased operational risk when using external service providers. Even digitally, service providers may not be able to serve the banks as usual, either due to contamination which will disrupt their business or the increase in demand on their resources from their other agreements.

Increased Procurement Expenses:

As a result of international lockdowns and governmental measures, the procurement expenses increased and the procurement processes might be difficult to follow. This will put an extra pressure on the Banks’ operational costs and expenses.

Unprecedented Competition:

Banks are facing competition from three angles:
  • Some of their typical competitors have gone through major transformations, which allowed them provide products at lower costs.
  • The availability of Neo-banks, which are Digital/Mobile only for banks and provide customers with the same basic financial services.
  • Companies from outside the banking sector started to offer traditional yet more innovative banking services and products.

About  half of  customers would consider opening an account with a digital bank

Question: would you be willing to open a new account with a new digital attacker bank with no branches developed asia?

Source: Digital Banking in the Gulf, McKinsey, 2016