A digital transformation of the Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) branch network in the United Arab Emirates is underway as it invests in new services and products for clients who are increasingly digital-savvy.

The bank is hoping to expand its customer base and increase efficiency, according to ADIB’s head of global retail banking Philip King.

In an interview with the National in Abu Dhabi, King stated that an overhaul of the network and the creation of a digital proposition aimed at Generation Y are running in parallel.

The digital transformation initiative is now in its second year, though King would not comment on how much has been spent by the bank on the move.

In the first phase of the bank’s technological transformation, 75 of its 87 branches have been reconfigured, with 98% of staff members undergoing training to ensure that they know how to make use of emerging technology.

The move to digital has already resulted in a rise of as much as 48% in the average monthly sales of credit cards in addition to a 25% teller waiting time improvement.

The massive increase in monthly credit card sales is seen as one of the main indications of the success of the digital transformation taking place at ADIB.

King says that ADIB wants to transform the branch network’s size in order to avoid the necessity for large branches in the future – although as customer access points, branches will remain of great importance.

However, King points out that even those branches will essentially be digital branches because everything that can be done digitally will be in regard to transactions.

ADIB is also considering merging some branches within the UAE, with four Abu Dhabi branches having already been combined within one large branch to serve its business, mass banking and priority customers.

King says that some branches have been merged, but a number of new ones have actually been opened where opportunities were presented, and the network will become whatever size is best to serve the community correctly.

The second phase of the project will see the introduction of interactive teller machines.

These machines will allow ADIB customers to take part in teller transactions via a number of services, including video conferencing.

The first branch to be fully rolled out under the new system is being launched next month, complete with all of the new branch technology.

GCC banks are also starting to increasingly look at the possibility of digitally transforming operations in order to become more efficient and reduce expenses given the slowdown of the worldwide economy.

Mashreq in Dubai is intending to spend as much as Dh500m to have its operations digitised within the next five years and a digital pivot is also being pursued by the National Bank of Fujairah and Emirates NBD.

Digital-only banks are already used by Emirates NBD and Mashreq, with online banks being rolled out last year for start-ups and small and medium-sized businesses.

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