DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION IN ISLAMIC BANKING MORE NEEDS TO BE DONE.
Interview with Esam Al Kheshnam, CEO of International Turnkey Systems (ITS) Group
Financial IT: How would you summarize the changes that are taking place today in the Islamic banking industry in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region?
Esam Al Kheshnam: The region’s Islamic banking industry is transforming at an astounding speed. New technologies are being embraced that are changing the way people think about and conduct their banking. Technological advancements are a key driver of this change but technology per say is not what is making the digitalization of banks vital, it is changing customer expectations.
Financial IT: What are the customers looking for?
Esam Al Kheshnam: Today’s banking customer expects a fast, seamless and personalized banking experience. This means that banks that don’t invest in customer first technology that facilitates immediacy, simplicity and 24/7 access to accounts and services will not survive in the new Digital Economy. This is particularly true in the GCC, where we have a tech savvy, highly mobile population which means an untapped source of new business for innovative Islamic banks.
Investing in the digitization of operations is not only vital for banks to survive and thrive; it is also becoming a moral obligation for Islamic banks. The reason being is that Fintech facilitates financial inclusion. It helps Islamic banks reach the unbanked and underbanked segments of Islamic countries, that is, people that do not have access to banking and finance services. By leveraging technology, the Islamic banking industry can transform not only the industry but also society and economies. Through banking technology, banks can provide the unbanked in Islamic countries with products and services through their mobile phones. Online banking allows segments of society that were previously not serviced, to take advantage of services such as microfinancing, bringing them into the financial system as a value added member of society and economic contributor.
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