BAB highlights banks’ digital transformation

MANAMA: Bahrain Association of Banks (BAB) has said banking and financial institutions in the country were able to provide many additional digital services to customers to meet the precautionary measures of social distancing imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a statement, the association said this would not have been possible so quickly without substantial investment made by banks over the past years towards digital transformation.

“All Bahraini banks continued their work and services without any interruption, and customers didn’t see any delay in completing their transactions. At the same time, banks maintained the highest levels safety and cybersecurity, as the pandemic was another opportunity that prompted banks to provide digital services more quickly and reliably,” said BAB chief executive Dr Waheed Al Qassim.

“One of the successful examples of the impact of the pandemic on the payments sector is BenefitPay. This application has seen a whopping increase in digital financial transactions by up to 1,257 per cent compared with 2019, worth nearly BD103 million, which is in addition to 43pc increase in QR code payment feature. Furthermore, this application in collaboration with Bapco has introduced fuel payment option for customers, where they can pay for fuel from their app without the need for cash, physical card, or even scanning a QR code,” he added.

The head of the association’s digitalisation and cybersecurity committee Ahmed Albalooshi said, “The circumstances that were imposed by the pandemic led to restricting physical interactions with customers and decreasing the use of cash. These have resulted in increasing the traffic to existing digital banking channels, introducing new digital banking services, and increasing digital transactions by customers.”

He said some of the digital trends in banking that the Bahraini market has seen are the introduction of digital branches by banks, promoting digital customer on-boarding features, providing smart ATMs, as well as offering open banking services.

As for back-office operations, BAB has noted that banks empowered their employees to work from home using different digitalisation tools and started to automate most of their back-office processes, to enable serving customers remotely and ensure sustainability of operations.

“This pandemic has certainly changed the banking sector forever and in the coming days, we might see more digital transformation initiatives by banks and new financial services offered by non-banks like fintech firms. This change will also increase the importance of cybersecurity and anti-fraud capabilities that banks will need to consider the most moving forward,” he added.




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