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UAE thumbs closer to cashless economy target: Standard Chartered

Dubai: The Middle East region sees a big leap in the digitalisation of the banking sector and sustainable finance as the UAE moves closer to a cashless economy, said Sunil Kaushal, CEO of Standard Chartered Africa and Middle East. told Gulf News in an interview.

Go cashless

According to Standard Chartered, consumer behavior in the region has undergone tremendous change in recent years. A recent survey conducted by the bank found that two-thirds of consumers in the United Arab Emirates expect the country to become completely cashless by 2030. The apparent shift will eventually be a reconfiguration of [bank] branches, which develop from transaction-oriented to concentrating on advisory services.

“From wealth management to personal banking, we have been experiencing a shift to digital for years. It was a conscious choice for Standard Chartered to adopt a digital strategy with mobile devices and to invest in an affordable, easy-to-execute digital banking offering, but the choice was also driven by changing consumer behaviors and preferences, said Kaushal.

Although the pandemic was a large-scale, sudden test drive of these technologies, it reinforced the importance of the fight against digital. As an international bank deeply rooted in this country, Standard Chartered invests heavily in technology because it wants to help position the UAE as a beacon of technology for the wider region.

Digital priority

The banking industry in the region has developed over the past few years, supported by disruptive technologies.

“The consumer of today wants access to a very personal and inclusive experience, as well as access to a wide range of services from the comfort of their homes,” said Kaushal.

The bank sees great potential in disruptive technologies that make banking services more accessible, efficient and convenient. Keeping services in silos is no longer feasible, and consumers are demanding overall experiences from their banks. Public banking allows the financial services sector to integrate seamlessly with those of the retail and lifestyle sectors, offering consumers a dynamic blend of services via a single platform.

Standard Chartered was an early adoption of technology in retail and mobile banking, only for digital banks.

“We vigorously monitor trends in our markets in order to effectively address the demands of consumers. A good example of this is the launch of our digital banks across Africa, which was first launched in Côte d’Ivoire in 2018. Since then, we have launched eight digital banks across key African markets, ”said Kaushal.

Green financing

Sustainable financing is fast becoming popular among governments, government-related entities and financial institutions in the region.

The issuance of green bonds increased in the second half, including the region, Qatar National Bank and Saudi Electric Company both coming on the market with the first green deal for each country.

A further increase in sustainable issuance in the region is expected, as banks continue to lend to sustainable projects and companies take advantage of the opportunities offered by the energy transition.

‘Even before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, sustainable finance has already begun to gain significant traction in the region, with sustainable and ESG considerations playing a crucial role in various national strategies, such as Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 and the United Arab Emirates’ Towards. the next 50 ‘strategy, ”Kaushal said.

The volume of debt issues remained strong in 2020, despite the disruption of the market caused by the pandemic. “We initially saw an increase in the issuance of social effects in the first half of the year, with the proceeds from COVID response effects going out to areas such as health care or other business support measures, such as the issuance of the $ 1.5 billion Islamic Development Bank in June, “said Kaushal.

International demand has been a major driver for the green bond market, with European investors in particular offering dedicated green funds providing a new source of demand.

Kaushal sees a significant number of green bond investors coming from conventional funds interested in the company’s credit story and sees the green element as an added bonus – the additional management and transparency surrounding a green bond can only be positive.

Performance prospects

Globally, the Standard Chartered Group delivered a resilient performance that exceeded analysts’ expectations in Q3 2020, despite challenging macroeconomic conditions.

In the Africa and Middle East region, the bank continues to have good operating performance, coupled with its strong capital position to meet the challenges due to low interest rates that are likely to remain low in the foreseeable future.

In the next few months, the bank expects a reduction in operating expenses that will help it increase investments in digital capabilities as well as in our affluent business.

With more than six decades in the UAE, the Bank has committed its portfolio of sound financial resources to strengthening the country’s position as a thriving investment center. ‘The UAE will always play an important role in achieving the Bank’s growth strategy; an important trade center and gateway to Africa and the Middle East, ”said Kaushal.

Major opportunities in Saudi Arabia Western financial institutions, including Standard Chartered, have been seeking opportunities in Saudi Arabia since announcing plans to privatize state assets in recent years and introducing reforms to attract foreign capital under a dependency program of oil. “In 2019, we obtained a banking license in Saudi Arabia that enables us to offer commercial banking services in the UK, contributing to the strong investment banking operations we have previously conducted,” said Sunil Kaushal, CEO of Standard Chartered Africa and the Middle East, said. The Kingdom is an attractive market for banks given its ambitious diversification efforts that translate directly into large-scale opportunities in areas where we are traditionally strong. These include project financing, capital markets, trade financing and cash management. “We are of the opinion that Saudi Arabia should assess the most important economic drivers in the long term and at the same time unlock opportunities to facilitate trade and capital flows. “Given the strength of our global network, the bank is uniquely positioned to be a bridge to facilitate investments from Saudi Arabia in overseas markets and vice versa,” he said. The bank expects the opening of the Saudi economy continues to encourage participation in the private sector, and investments, especially in sectors that have largely been the domain of public sector funding, offering its global and regional clients the opportunity to engage in attractive sectors such as healthcare, education, entertainment To further strengthen the Bank’s plans for the Kingdom, he appointed Yazaid al-Salloom as CEO of our business in Saudi Arabia in July this year, while we want to expand in the Kingdom.

Source: Gulf News

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