UAE digital bank Zand’s Olivier Crespin steps down as CEO

Bank's chief technology officer Jamie Chittenden named as interim chief

Zand, the UAE’s first digital bank that caters to retail and corporate clients, is backed by a number of companies including India's Aditya Birla Group. Photo: Zand website
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Zand, the UAE’s first digital bank that caters to retail and corporate clients, on Tuesday said its chief executive Olivier Crespin has stepped down from the position to pursue other interests.

Mr Crespin, who is also the co-founder of Zand, left the bank with effect from October 5, the lender said on Tuesday.

Jamie Chittenden, Zand's chief technology officer, has been named as the interim chief executive. A new chief executive will be announced by the board shortly, Zand said.

Mr Crespin "has played a key role in building Zand's operations from the ground up. He also assembled a talented and highly capable operational team of experienced bankers and technologists, who will continue to deliver on the vision of the board of directors”, said Mohamed Alabbar, chairman of Zand.

Zand recently secured a banking licence from the Central Bank of the UAE to operate as a fully independent commercial bank. Subsequently, the lender onboarded its first corporate clients.

The bank is backed by a number of companies, including India's Aditya Birla Group (Solfrid Investments), global investment manager Franklin Templeton and UAE's Al Hail Holding.

Dubai-based Al Sayyah and Sons Investments, Abu Dhabi holding company Global Development Group and Yusuff Ali, chairman of the LuLu Group, are also backing the digital lender.

“Zand has achieved significant milestones that will establish its position as the bank of the future,” Mr Crespin said.

The concept of digital-only banks is gaining traction in the UAE on the back of an increasingly digital-savvy consumer base and the rise of FinTech opportunities.

The Covid-19 pandemic, which led to lockdowns around the world, hastened the move into digital services as consumers switched to cashless payments and online shopping.

Last month, Wio Bank, an Abu Dhabi-based digital lender, launched operations in the UAE with plans to focus on small and medium enterprises in its first year.

With a total invested capital of Dh2.3 billion ($626 million), Wio Bank is jointly owned by Abu Dhabi holding company ADQ, Alpha Dhabi Holding, telecoms operator e& (formerly known as Etisalat) and First Abu Dhabi Bank, the UAE’s largest lender by assets.

The bank will expand its operations to retail clientele next year to become a full-service digital bank, its chief executive Jayesh Patel told The National in an interview.

Some traditional financial institutions have already set up neobanks, with lenders such as Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Emirates NBD and Mashreq unveiling digital-forward operations through Hayyak, Liv and Mashreq Neo, respectively.

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, the biggest Sharia-compliant lender in the emirate, launched a digital-only bank called Amwali last year.

Updated: October 11, 2022, 2:41 PM