Technology, strategic alliances to drive retail business in Africa and Middle East

Dubai: Standard Chartered is working on a retail banking strategy for Africa and Middle East region that will be increasingly anchored on smart technologies and strategic alliances with other retail businesses such as telecoms and oil retailers, said Jaydeep Gupta, Regional Head, Retail Banking, Africa and Middle East.

“Across Africa, in many markets we don’t need extensive branch networks. Instead we are trying to provide access points like electronic banking units in tie-ups with companies such as oil retailers and telecoms to provide banking services within their networks. In petrol stations and convenient stores, the bank is trying to introduce ATMs or CDMs [cheque deposit machines] and all digital presence where customers can access banking services. Because we have SC Mobile up and running the customers has access to the bank at any point in time,” said Gupta.

He said it is no longer imperative for banks to have an extensive branch network to participate in the retail banking business. The bank has been working on a number of alliances and tie-ups in key markets. For example in Pakistan it has a tie-up with Emirates. In the UAE, the bank is working on an alliance with an insurance service provider to distribute bancassurance products.

“We have global tie-ups with Uber, Hotel.com, Crown Corporation to name a few. These are things that help us to acquire new customers and deepen relationships with existing customers,” he said.

In some of the markets, the bank is working on a strategy to rationalise the branch based on the concentration of customers. The non-core city strategy is being implemented in some of the African markets.

At the Centre of bank’s digital banking initiative is its Command and Control Centre that monitors transaction flows real time.

“We are working a lot focused on to improving the client experience. It is a long journey. But we are attempting to come as close as possible to customer expectations in delivery of products,” said Gupta.

Going forward, analytics, artificial intelligence and robotics will play a key role in customer acquisition, retention and product offerings. The bank has created a Centre of excellence in Bengaluru with analytics and modelling capabilities which runs net propensity modelling on bank’s customer base in terms of next best offer, which product to offer and real time analytics.

The bank has a local analytic team based in the UAE but has a larger team based in Bengaluru. “The analytics team which does modelling in terms of “the next best offer”, comes up with predictive selections for our customers based on their preferences and spending patterns. Real time data helps the bank to make the right kind of offer to customers wherever they are. The team in Bengaluru supports the UAE, Africa Hong Kong Singapore India and other markets,” said Gupta.

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