Is adaptive banking the future of finance?

Today's banking customers' financial interactions are no longer merely transactional; they are deeply experiential

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The financial landscape is evolving at a pace never witnessed before. As we stand at the crossroads of tradition and innovation, I firmly believe adaptive banking is not only shaping our present, but defining our future.

Today's banking customers, shaped by the digital era, ask for proximity and personalisation. Their financial interactions are no longer merely transactional; they are deeply experiential. They seek real-time solutions, data-driven insights and most importantly, a sense of connection with their financial institutions.

It is a paradigm shift – transitioning banking from its brick-and-mortar heritage to a digital, dynamic realm where data isn't only an asset; it's akin to currency.

With new technology such as AI and machine learning making inroads into our industry, the opportunities seem boundless. These tools offer profound insights, digging deep into data pools to draw out patterns and predictions that were previously invisible to the human eye.

Banks can now offer uniquely tailored experiences, be it in the form of personalised investment suggestions or predictive financial health checks. But, as with any potent tool, the power of AI needs to be harnessed responsibly, ensuring data privacy and security are always paramount.

Even as we navigate this digital frontier, one truth remains unchanged: the irreplaceable value of the human touch. Banking, for all its algorithms and automation, still hinges on trust that is built and nurtured through human connections. Even as we adopt automation, upskilling our workforce is important. Our people need to be at the helm of this digital transformation.

While change is challenging for most, it is also exciting for those with the right perspective and willingness to embrace the opportunities. Traditional banks with a futuristic vision are likely to identify and leverage opportunities presented in the form of potential collaborations from across the ecosystem, agile newcomers, FinTechs, to non-banking entities that are redefining the landscape of financial services. These are opportunities waiting to be unveiled.

While it's essential to acknowledge the role of our past systems and infrastructures, it's equally important to recognise that a bank pioneering in new-age digital banking technology must harness modern platforms and tools. Our focus should be on how we can use the best of both worlds to shape a transformative digital future.

The UAE has emerged as a beacon of adaptive banking. The synergy of a robust banking sector and a forward-looking government committed to regulatory reforms makes the Emirates an exciting place for financial innovation. Having witnessed and driven many of these changes, I can attest to that.

The Middle East has the potential and is ready to embrace the future of finance.

As I reflect on the trajectory of adaptive banking, one sentiment stands out: it is an era of unparalleled opportunities.

The fusion of cutting-edge technology with deep-rooted, customer-centric principles is setting the stage for a banking revolution. This isn't only about modernising processes but reimagining how we connect, serve and grow alongside our customers.

Adaptive banking is not a luxury or a buzzword – it is a necessity. As we tread this path, I am buoyed by optimism for I believe that by merging innovation with empathy, resilience with agility and tradition with foresight, we are not only staying relevant but becoming pioneers, shaping a vibrant, inclusive and a prosperous financial future.

Ahmed Abdelaal is group chief executive of Mashreq

Updated: November 26, 2023, 3:00 AM