Islamic banks brace to re-engineer itself to address customer needs in digital era

24th World Islamic Banking Conference to take place in Bahrain

WIBC panel session on digital banking.

KUWAIT: Middle East Global Advisors, a leading financial intelligence platform facilitating the development of knowledge-based economies in the MENASEA markets, will convene the 24th edition of their flagship offering – The World Islamic Banking Conference (WIBC), the largest and most prestigious gathering of Islamic banking and finance leaders in the world, on December 4th, 5th & 6th in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Based on a strategic partnership with the Central Bank of Bahrain, the three-day-long forum will take place at the ART Rotana Hotel in Amwaj Islands.

The theme for WIBC 2017 – “Drivers of Economic Growth & Risks: Policymakers & Regulators”, is in line with the conference’s steady vision to serve as a compass for the global Islamic finance and banking industry, and is expected to draw participation from over 1,300 global industry leaders, policy makers, innovators and stakeholders, all focused on generating breakthrough insights that help navigate through the complexities of the global financial system.

Touted as a catalyst for unprecedented change, digitization has resulted in constant disruption to existing business models, processes and services for Islamic Banks. The advent of the digital revolution has brought with it a gamut of new improved user experiences resulting in a paradigm shift in customer behavior, that’s made customer engagement all the more hard. With the rapid change in technology in the banking sector, and other non-bank players entering the market, the intermediary link between institutions and customers has become less direct. Enhancing customer value and establishing a direct control of customer relationships has emerged as a key differentiator in a stiff competitive environment. Interestingly, according to the World Islamic Banking Competitiveness Report 2016 by EY, Islamic banks still have a lower customer penetration in mobile banking compared to conventional banks and the digitization efforts need to catch up.

While in the past, Islamic Banks were behind their conventional banking counterparts in terms of innovation and technology, however, now many in the Gulf and the Middle East, especially those that have performed well over the past few years, have realized the power of re-engineering their business models and adopting a more agile approach to digital banking.
Speaking on behalf of WIBC’s Islamic Banking Technology Partner, Mohammed Kateeb, Group Chairman & CEO, Path Solutions, said, “The Islamic finance industry is going through drastic changes as a consequence of evolving customer behavior, channel proliferation and the digitization of operations in general. However, it’s important to recognize the common challenges and opportunities facing the industry at large. The Islamic finance industry has a lot of catching up to do in terms of placing an emphasis on customer and market evolutions and process change requirements. In this relation, I look forward to contributing to the critical discussion on digital banking at the 24th World Islamic Banking Conference next month.”

Speaking ahead of taking part in the digital banking focused panel, Ahmed Albalooshi, Group CIO, Al Baraka Banking Group, said, “It is a privilege to participate in the 24th World Islamic Banking Conference as part of the CIO panel on Digital Banking. In this age of technological disruption, CIOs are poised to tackle external and internal challenges effectively whilst enabling business growth and increasing the overall profitability. As a leading Islamic bank operating in 15 countries, I look forward to sharing our experience in digital banking with the participants and benefitting from their own.”

Speaking on behalf of WIBC’s Associate Partner, Andrew Sims, Chief Executive Officer, NEC Payments, said, “NEC Payments are proud to be supporting the 24th World Islamic Banking Conference. We are living in an era when change happens faster, and when our customers’ opinions are influenced more quickly and by a broader range of media and information channels than at any time in the past. I am delighted to be able to participate in the Digital Banking panel, and to discuss with my peers how financial institutions may harness the benefits of transformative technologies to deliver next-generation products and services that delight and engage customers, while increasing efficiency and profitability.”

In light of the technological disruption of Islamic Banks, the 24th WIBC will pioneer a panel session focused on harnessing digital technologies to stay relevant and address the evolving customer preferences. The session will feature key insights from Mohammed Kateeb, Group Chairman & CEO, Path Solutions; Ahmed Albalooshi, Group CIO, Al Baraka Banking Group; Esam Alkheshnam, CEO, International Turnkey Systems (ITS); Fadi Hani, VP MEA & Turkey, Avaya & Andrew Sims, Chief Executive Officer, NEC Payments, as they probe attendees to rethink their approach towards digital banking and dole out pointers on addressing the evolving customer preferences by means of rewiring existing business models.

Key features for WIBC 2017 include: Governors’ Addresses; High-profile Regulatory Debate among Central Bankers; a conversation with a distinguished Islamic finance veteran – Adnan Ahmed Yousif, Chief Executive and President, Al Baraka Banking Group on the future course of the Islamic economy; an exclusive WIBC Knowledge-Sharing Series touching upon a number of topical issues like Leveraging Islamic Capital Markets for innovative solutions that will focus on Aviation Financing, Alternative/Renewable Energy Financing; Panel discussions focusing on dynamic capital markets, sustainable, equitable & inclusive growth, new horizons for Islamic finance, ESG Investing and the influence of energy prices, VAT, the effect of the recent global economic & political developments and much more.

Industry leaders will also be recognized for their excellence through the WIBC Performance Awards 2017, the winners of which will be honored at the Gala Dinner on December 05. Confirmed partners at WIBC 2017 so far include: Kuwait Finance House (KFH), Khaleeji Commercial Bank (KHCB), Bahrain Islamic Bank (BISB), Al Salam Bank -Bahrain, Ibdar Bank, Bank ABC Islamic, Bank of Khartoum (BOK) International, Boubyan Bank, Avaya, Wahed Invest, Alvarez & Marsal, Al Baraka Banking Group, Ithmaar Bank, Thomson Reuters, Path Solutions, Labuan IBFC, Shariyah Review Bureau, Luxembourg for Finance (LFF), Oracle Financial Services, Baker McKenzie, DARKTRACE, The Benefit Company B.S.C, Infosys Finacle, Sadad, NEC Payments, Eiger Trading Advisors Ltd, G4S, Department for International Trade – British Embassy Bahrain, CBX Unit LLC, Deloitte, DDCAP, Fitch Ratings, Crestbridge Bahrain, The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD), Bahrain Institute of Banking & Finance (BIBF) & International Islamic Financial Market (IIFM).

This article was published on 22/11/2017