A paradigm shift is under way in the UAE's financial sector as technology evolves and customers live in a hyper-connected world.
A new breed of customers - who we call the connected generation - are changing the way banks do business. Not bound by age, they use a wide range of connected devices, and demand ease and convenience to accomplish day-to-day financial tasks. Today, for our mobile banking application, Snapp, our oldest customer is almost 92 years old, while the youngest is 18.
All this comes as the infrastructure for digital becomes well entrenched in the UAE. Mobile phone penetration is now at a world-record high of 233 per cent.
McKinsey's latest research reveals that at least 80 per cent of urban consumers in the UAE now prefer to do a portion of their banking through digital channels. Five years back, an average customer would visit the branch almost 9 times a year. Today, they rarely visit and 91 per cent of our transactions at Mashreq happen outside the branch via electronic channels.
With the roll-out of the Emirates Digital Wallet, the pace and extent of digitization in the UAE is poised to accelerate further as it prepares to usher in a cashless society by 2020. Proactive government policies have been crucial in building a digital culture in the country. By 2018, 80 per cent of government services will be done by mobile. Not surprisingly, MasterCard's Digital Evolution Index 2017 placed Dubai among the world's "standout digital economies" along with Singapore, the UK, New Zealand, Estonia, Hong Kong and Japan.
As the digital future becomes inevitable, we understand that the one-size-fits-all approach in banking does not work anymore. It isn't enough for banks to woo customers with nice-looking apps. With the launch of Mashreq Neo - the UAE's first full-fledged digital bank - we have entered a new era in the digitisation of retail banking.