Chairman of Gulf Bank Omar Alghanim
Chairman of Gulf Bank Omar Alghanim

KUWAIT: Gulf Bank today announced a net profit of KD 20.7 million for the first half of 2016, an increase of 11% or KD 2 million over the same period last year. Operating profit, excluding general provision expenses improved significantly from KD 32.6 million to KD 41.9 million, an increase of 29%. Loan quality continues to improve as credit costs of KD 3.2 million (specific provisions plus write-offs less recoveries) were booked in H1 2016, down 85% from KD 22.0 million during the same period last year.. The bank’s total loan loss reserves on the balance sheet stood at KD 302 million. General provisions comprise nearly KD 200 million or 66% of the total provisions. The bank successfully completed the issuance of KD 100 million in Tier 2 capital in May 2016, pushing its Capital Adequacy Ratio under Basel III to 18.3% against the minimum regulatory requirement of 14.0%.

Omar Kutayba Alghanim, Gulf Bank’s Chairman said: “These are very creditable results and reflect Gulf Bank’s core financial stability and strength. Moreover, our ability to continue to grow and maintain our strong capital position was further enhanced by our bond issue in May, which was healthily oversubscribed. “During the first half of 2016, the bank successfully met a number of its key strategic objectives and launched a number of major services, including the Middle East’s first facial recognition mobile banking app. Our focus on consumer banking also continued to be rewarded, driven by our credit card business which delivered a 16% increase in customer card spend year-over-year. This was due primarily, to the continued success of our Gulf Rewards credit card loyalty program, Gulf Rewards, which we launched in the last quarter of 2015. We are passionate about innovations such as this, which bring our customers a superior customer experience, and we plan to deliver more product enhancements to continuously improve satisfaction

‘Women in the Corporate World’

Z“Gulf Bank is also heavily involved in encouraging development in our society. A key event for us in the first part of the year was the ‘Women in the Corporate World: Beyond the Glass Ceiling’ conference held in Kuwait. This was held in May to bring the topic of ‘diversity in the workplace’ to the table for discussion. This conference featured key influential international, regional, and local leaders and generated great success on local and regional levels.”

“Gulf Bank is a long time partner and supporter of INJAZ and will continue to invest in youth educational programs. The bank’s employees from various departments and backgrounds regularly volunteer to work with INJAZ to teach entrepreneurial and leadership skills. Gulf Bank’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) program is committed to educational initiatives that make a sustainable impact with youth and in the community. I am very proud of our record in this area to date.”

César Gonz·lez-Bueno, Gulf Bank’s CEO said: “We are pleased with our performance in a tougher environment than this time last year. Furthermore, some of our major strategic investments to enhance our customer service and products, namely our new mobile banking app, “Blinking to Bank” and also our credit card loyalty program, Gulf Rewards, have been well received by our customers due to their superior experience.”

“Our mobile banking app, the first in the Middle East with facial recognition is a new, innovative and easy way for our customers to bank from their mobile phone through one of two methods: by blinking their eyes at their Smartphone camera, we call it ‘Blinking to Bank’, or by registering a password. The app is available in Arabic and English and is easily downloadable onto Smartphone devices through the Apple App store and the Android Play store. We have just recently launched but already there has been a significant increase in the number of mobile banking customers and the user experience feedback is excellent.

“We are also pleased with the success of the Gulf Rewards program, which has had a strong take-up from our customers. Gulf Rewards, includes Gulf Points for the fastest free flights in Kuwait on any airline and free hotel stays in any of the 300,000 participating hotels worldwide and “Entertainer”, Kuwait’s first geo-locator mobile application. This provides exclusive instant offers for a large number of retail, entertainment, and children’s activities in Kuwait, UAE, and London. In April, this unique program won the ‘Credit Card Product of the Year in the Middle East’ award from The Asian Banker, one of Asia’s leading consulting companies in financial services research, benchmarking, and intelligence. This acknowledgment is further evidence of the exceptional nature of our loyalty program. This award not only reinforces Gulf Bank’s position in Kuwait as a market leader in retail financial services, offering outstanding products coupled with superior customer service, but also demonstrates excellence at the regional Middle East level.

Major products and services

The bank was also able to launch other major products and services. We added our VISA Signature credit card to the range of premium credit cards offered by the bank, one more step in offering more options and benefits to our Priority Banking customers. In addition, the bank now offers automatic enrollment into the Lounge Key Airport Lounge program for Gulf Bank’s VISA Infinite and MasterCard World cardholders. This program provides unlimited, complimentary access to over 500 airport lounges worldwide.”

For the Holy Month of Ramadan, and in line with its corporate social responsibility program, Gulf Bank launched its latest Ramadan video, which encouraged the act of good deeds in the community. Additionally, in partnership with Saveco and LOYAC, Gulf Bank distributed “maachla” foodstuff boxes to families in need around Kuwait specifically for children, in collaboration with Kuwait Association for the Care of Children in Hospitals (KAACH), the bank’s staff volunteered to conduct visits over a period of five days to number of hospitals such as Farwaniya, Al -Jahra, IbnSina, Al Razi, Al- Amiri and NBK hospital and got engaged with the young patients through a series of fun activities and distributed gifts and treats to each. Gulf Bank has also partnered with Saveco to bring the joy of girgian to children at Dasman Clinic, distributed gift bags to them in a fun filled event. Additionally, Gulf Bank has tied up with LOYAC to distribute girgian bags to LOYAC summer programs interviewees, children with special needs and among the underprivileged children living in underdeveloped neighborhoods in Kuwait.

In the first half of 2016, Gulf Bank received several awards from a number of prestigious organizations. These included ‘The Best Cash Management Provider in Kuwait’ award by Global Finance Magazine, ‘Best Retail Bank in Kuwait’ for third consecutive year and ‘Best Retail Customer Service Bank in Kuwait’ for second consecutive year by International Finance Magazine, the ‘Al Shakoor Award’ by Gulf University for Science and Technology, ‘Credit Card Product of the Year in the Middle East’ by Asian Banker, a special CSR Award by Arabian Business Magazine, ‘Best Retail Bank in Kuwait’ by Banker ME and ‘Best Commercial Bank of the Year’ and ‘Best Innovation in Retail Banking in Kuwait’ by The International Banker.