Mashreq Neo: UAE’s new bank offers fresh experience for digital natives

The UAE's oldest bank has created the country's newest. Mashreq Bank's Subroto Som introduces the new digital-only retail bank

January 5, 2018

Mashreq Neo is the new full-service digital-only bank for customers in the UAE. This newest bank is the child of the UAE’s oldest: Mashreq Bank, which has 50 years of experience providing award-winning financial services in the country. Mashreq’s Head of Retail Banking Subroto Som explains how the new bank was created to cater to the needs and wants of the emerging connected generation: digital natives who want to do everything online, on-the-go, and with as little human interaction as possible. You can also watch the second half of this interview, where he explains that Mashreq Bank is still maintaining and actually expanding its physical branch network; and discusses the challenges for retail banking in the UAE.

World Finance: Mashreq has a long history of innovation; tell me more about this latest offering.

Subroto Som: Mashreq Neo is a retail bank targeted at consumer behaviours and the consumers that we see emerging in the UAE. We call this the connected generation. They are always connected through smartphones; through social media; through their peers, friends, and family. And they get influenced by them.

Mashreq Neo is a retail bank targeted at this connected generation. It offers you the flexibility of multi-currency accounts. It facilitates payments through wallets. It allows you remittances. It allows you to do lending. It also connects you to 30 stock exchanges of the world, to buy and sell stocks. And we will bring new features to the Mashreq Neo customers as we work together.

World Finance: What are the particular needs and wants of this connected generation, and how are you catering specifically to them?

Subroto Som: So let me give you three examples; first in just opening the account. All it takes is four steps and less than five minutes, and the consumer will have an account.

You have to download the Mashreq Neo app. Upload your Emirates ID, input a few details. The bank will send you an OTP to verify that it is you who we are talking to. You’ll choose your password and your username, and you’re done.

The very next day, a bank employee will visit you to verify your documents, take your signature (which is a regulatory requirement) and hand you over the debit card, the credit card, and the chequebook. And that is the account set up.

Second, you don’t need to visit a branch, or talk to anybody, ever again. Mashreq Neo has the capability through your mobile phone or through online banking that you can do all your transactions without visiting a branch ever again.

Third, to give you a sense of the flexibility and the personalisation that you can do. Normally in a credit card you get rewards, either in the form of cashback, miles, or reward points. Mashreq Neo credit card offers you the flexibility to choose any of these three, and at an interval of every quarter you can choose to move from one to the other.

These are three examples of how this connected generation is looking for flexibility, convenience, and things that matter to them in their retail banking.

World Finance: It’s very early days, barely a month at time of recording; how has the reception been?

Subroto Som: We have been very pleased with the response that we have got from the consumer. We had planned for a certain number of accounts to be opened in the first three months, by the end of the year. I’m pleased to say that we will cross that number even before we end the first month. The numbers will be far more than we had anticipated, and we are extremely pleased about it.

But let me also share one other thing. In the first couple of days, when we launched the product, we actually saw a lot of bankers applying for the product. Not only from UAE, also from elsewhere! We were getting worried, is it only for bankers? But soon thereafter we started to get real customers also applying for Mashreq Neo.

World Finance: So what growth do you see in this youth segment?

Subroto Som: I would not call it just a youth segment; one of our oldest customers who still uses mobile banking is as old as 92.

It’s actually aimed at people who are digitally savvy, they are seeking convenience and they are comfortable with the use of the new technology. And we are trying to embed retail banking within their other activities.

So to me, the growth potentials are enormous. Research recently showed that close to 80 percent of consumers in the UAE do do some part of their banking on mobile. We have seen in our customer base that there’s 45-50 percent of customers who do all their banking through mobile or online banking, and do not visit a branch. So I am very hopeful that there is a lot of potential of new customers moving from traditional channels to Mashreq Neo.