Over the past decade, financial technology widely referred to as FinTech has grown primarily due to growing Internet access worldwide and the emergence of smartphones and apps. According to the Ericsson Mobility Report published last year, 70 percent of the world’s population is expected to be using smartphones by 2020.
As smart devices are increasingly becoming part of everyday life for most people in the digital age, it is essential for the banking sector to become more innovative to enhance its productivity. “We’re transitioning toward a situation where growth for companies and economies will have to depend more on productivity than before,” said Jarmo Kotilaine, chief economist at the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB).
“To achieve that, you will need better management, better innovations, new distribution channels and new capital.” Increasing the efficiency of digital banking will particularly serve customers in Saudi Arabia, where banks’ working hours overlap with those of most employees.
Comprehensive digital banking can save them a journey to the branch. Moreover, Saudi Arabia is a pioneer when it comes to technology penetration in the region. “The usage of technology in Saudi Arabia is advanced, whether in retail banking, cash management or corporate,” said Talat Hafiz, secretary-general of Saudi banks’ Media and Banking Awareness Committee.
“When it comes to technology, what applies in conventional banking also applies in Islamic banking.” He added: “Using financial technology improves the quality of the banking experience among clients. It influences the speed and accuracy of the experience. Technology makes products more reachable to clients.”
The change in behavior patterns among clients in the banking sector requires banks to respond to new customer needs and rethink how they deliver services to their clients, taking them to a phase of digital banking. “As a matter of policy, we in SAMA (the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority) encourage all regulated institutions to be responsive to the needs of their customers, and have always supported the development of products that meet those needs,” said SAMA Gov. Ahmed Al-Kholifey.
A report published this month by Ernst & Young (EY) said the adoption of financial technology is not an option anymore.—Agencies