Mashreq Bank expands innovative digital offering to SMEs with NeoBiz

The first exclusively digital bank for the UAE's small businesses will make banking more convenient and efficient, says Subroto Som

January 28, 2020

In 2017, the oldest bank in the UAE launched the newest. Mashreq Bank created Mashreq Neo: a digital-only bank for retail customers. Now the bank has iterated the highly successful formula to offer the same high level digital service to SMEs. Subroto Som, Head of Retail Banking Group for Mashreq Bank, explains the benefits that NeoBiz will bring to SMes in the UAE, and why he’s so excited to be at the forefront of retail banking transformation.

Subroto Som: Mashreq has been investing in technology, and has been known for its innovation in this market, for a good 50 years. We were the first ones to bring a digital only bank for retail, called Neo. We are the first to bring a digital only bank for the small business called NeoBiz. So we are constantly focusing on bringing new technology for the benefit of our consumers.

NeoBiz is initially aimed at the startups and the small businesses. We have a large number of them coming to life in the UAE, and they particularly find it very difficult to open a bank account for their financial transactions.

Small businesses have had a big difficulty in opening new accounts. They have to visit a branch multiple times, and it could take anywhere between three days to 25 days to open an account.

With NeoBiz, you don’t need to visit a branch, and it could be open between a day, or at most three days.

Once an account is open, for all your transactions, the app NeoBiz is sufficient. You don’t need to visit the branch to transact on behalf of your company.

In NeoBiz – and also for our business banking accounts – we have launched a chatbot called Emma. It assists our customers with their queries. Over time its capabilities and its functionalities will improve and will increase – and hence Emma is going to be the most friendly and useful assistant to our customers.

The second: eKYC. KYC, which is Know Your Customer, for very right reasons is becoming more enhanced and complex. There are more details necessary from a bank’s perspective, and they’re required more often.

To assist this, we have launched an eKYC, where a consumer or a customer can directly upload the details, and may not visit the branch for this activity.

The third thing that we have done a lot in this market is the new digital branch. For customers who are using the digital banking technology for the first time, it’s a prime place to try them out. There are people to help you with them, so that in future you can use them without coming to the branch.

The look and feel of the branch has changed dramatically; once you walk into it, it’s very open, welcoming. There are staff – or as we call them, universal bankers, available in the lobby, and they’re there to assist the customers either to a digital machine that is possible, or take them to a consultation room where they can discuss their specific need.

In the consultation rooms, we also have a video office where you can consult with a specialist, even if the specialist is not present at the branch.

There are specific lobbies available for our Mashreq Gold clients, and for our business banking clients.

The technology that’s coming in now is easy to integrate, easy to use, and much cheaper: that’s a bigger impact. But the technology has been here for quite some time. It’s the mobility through the mobile phone that is specifically bringing in a big value for our consumers. But overall I will say, it’s the consumer adoption that is the key. And we are seeing a big, big change – particularly in the last 18 months – where the consumer is adopting digital applications, digital banks, for their day to day use.

I’m actually quite excited that this is probably the best times for retail banking. While there is lots of challenging news in the world about macroeconomic slowdown, increased or enhanced regulatory requirements, trade barriers and trade wars and geopolitical issues; I think for retail banks this is a really good moment, where the use of technology and the adoption by the consumer, are making impossibles possible. We are able to bring about conveniences to the consumer, transactions are almost instantaneous, and it is no longer a chore to do retail banking. You should almost get to the place where you enjoy doing retail banking. And that change is coming about – not only in the UAE, but across the globe.