Suvo Sarkar, SEVP Retail Banker, Emirates NBD

Global Digital Banking Conference 2018 - UK Edition

What key pain points remain for the younger generation that Liv. hopes to solve?

Millennials want more out of life, whether it is new experiences through travel or events, or interesting content or more social engagement and they look to engage with partners who are able to provide this effect. Liv. provides banking services seamlessly integrated with lifestyle and this has helped make the bank a favourite with young customers in the UAE.

2. What were some of the hurdles in launching a digital-only bank as part of a larger institution?

Liv., launched a year back, is the first digital bank in the region targeted at millennials. As against incrementally improving a traditional banking experience, Liv. has been conceived and built differently from the ground up, by a team of millennials, and seeks to become the bank of choice for them. This enabled us to put together a proposition that was not a ‘faster horse’ but one that was built fundamentally differently to meet the needs of a young digital-native generation.

Technology solutions were accordingly developed that provided more agility and flexibility, by leveraging the strengths of our core banking platforms. New customer journeys were drawn up that helped build processes tailor-made to the new requirements as opposed to enhancing existing ones. Hierarchies were squashed as the team worked mostly sitting around the same table. Partnerships were forged with non-traditional players, whether it was for delivering debit cards or for couponing, to provide a cohesive offering.

Last but not least was the building of a mindset among the team that was not worried about failing, and helped us to continuously experiment and re-try before arriving at the best solution.

3. Which technologies have the power to truly transform the retail banking market?

While technology continues to evolve rapidly across many fronts, at Liv. we have been careful to ensure that our solutions are built centred on customer needs and not necessarily on what new technologies can offer. Key guiding principles that we follow are obtaining software services that are quick to implement and easy to phase out if needed, using an API gateway for faster and easier connectivity, building internally where possible as opposed to buying to optimize time-to-market and cost, and building with the ability to scale up quickly, for example with cloud-based platforms.

Some of the emerging technologies that we are evaluating are AI based chat and contextual messaging services, next-generation data analytic tools and enhanced biometrics that will help us make the user experience easier and sturdier.

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