Retail Banking Trends in the Middle East in 2015

download (12)The Middle East market with the UAE, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia – to name the most important – is a special one.

Customers in this region are used to receive an excellent service. Banks need to take care of this.

One way to try to attract and satisfy customers is the permanent investment into the latest available technology on the banking and finance market.

More important than ever is the marketing point of view towards the market. Retail banks need to get media coverage to get customers attention. To obtain this they try to implement new features and even gadgets to be one step beyond their competitors.

This could be a fancy new application for smartphones or new functions to facilitate the daily bank account maintenance.

Digital banking is for sure one of the hottest topics in 2015, we can clearly observe this trend in the last 6 month of this year. The customers are paying more and more attention to get everything done on their smartphones so mobile banking is very important too.

Besides all the interest in mobile banking the banks in the Middle East are maintaining and increasing their network of brick-and-mortar branches in 2015.

Branches and especially flagship branches are important brand ambassadors. They need to be modern and stuffed with the latest available technology under the hood and visible to the customer to showcase the bank wants to be a technical and innovative market leader.

Branches are also important for the private and wealth banking. These segments need to be taken care of in a special way. The more customers are wealthy the better banks are caring about making them happy.

In the Middle East this is more important than in other regions as we all know.

Even if we can observe a global trend to find the “next big thing” speaking about big data we can remark that in the region banks still like to invest into this model to analyse their customers behaviour to try to bind them stronger to their brands by the different outcomes of the filtered big data flow.

One of the goals is to make it very convenient to manage the financial affairs by making it simple and easy for the customer to handle them.

An example for this concept is the way one can open an account in Saudi Arabia. You just visit a branch and you are all set. This means you will be able to open the account, and at the same time the bank will instantly issue your bank card.

There is no need to wait for a letter or to pick up the card later.

This could be done by Video Teller Machines even 24/7. After the KYC (Know Your Customer) procedure certain models of these machines can instantly issue the card too. The whole procedure can be assisted by a remote teller connected to the VTM via video conferencing technology.

Internet banking has to be reviewed because it is considered not easy enough use compared to smartphone based mobile banking in 2015. An application on a mobile device is much easier and more convenient to understand and to manage than using classical internet banking where you need to sit in front of a computer.

Banks in the Middle East are aware of this and keen to apply new technologies to keep the customers happy and loyal to their brand.

Mobile, digital banking is used for new marketing methods. Beacon technology seems not to be that interesting as thought. Using the customer’s device to penetrate it via the different social channels is one example of digital marketing.

The new generation of ATMs and VTMs have bigger screens, the VTMs (Video Teller Machines) often offer even two large screens ( around 21″ – 22″ ) which are used for digital signage when there is no customer using them.

Video Teller Machines are welcomed in the Middle East. They are offering tons of new possibilities like 24/7 remote teller operated banking, cross selling via product specialists operating from the banks call center. This means they can be virtually everywhere be present where the banks are operating their VTMs.

Video Teller Machines entered the market in the Middle East to create teller less branches in 2015.

This concept will surely be used to quickly enhance the branch footprint of banks in shopping malls and metro stations.

Another trend in the Middle East is providing Islamic Banking to the customers. This is on the plate since several years now but still trendy in 2015. Opening other channels than the traditional ones could be the focus nowadays. This is an ongoing process.


Considering Invoice Finance? Our Market Research Findings Summarised

download (11)If you are considering using invoice finance (which includes both factoring and invoice discounting services) you should read this article first as it summarises the last 5 years worth of research that we have conducted regarding the sector. Below I have distilled all the results into the key information that anyone considering using such products, needs to know.

Invoice finance is not used by an enormous number of businesses within the UK, but it is used extensively by fast growing businesses. We have estimated that about 0.86% of all UK businesses currently use these products, compared with the vast majority of businesses that will use some combination of overdraft, loan or family money to fund their venture. There are a number of reasons for this. Approximately 25% of businesses are likely to be eligible (higher if you include retailers for who there are now specialist funding products). Eligibility is generally linked to trade of the business. Those which sell goods or services that are “sell and forget” are most suited, and the sales have to be to other businesses, on credit terms. So if you factored that in, one might estimate the market penetration to be around 4% of eligible businesses.

There are two key reasons for the low number currently using these services. Awareness of these products is extremely low amongst UK companies. Our studies have repeatedly found that one of the key issues for this sector is that businesses do not know about, or understand these products. The other reason is price. Businesses tend to expect that these services will be much more expensive than they actually are. Often they do not have access to the whole market so are unable to compare the deals that are available across the broad range of providers that serve this sector. Also, when determining value for money, the benefits from services such as factoring, which includes outsourced invoice collections and credit control, needs to be factored in.

Turning to the fast growing businesses, we conducted a study that found 12% of businesses that were growing their turnover by 20%, or more, per annum, were using invoice finance. The concentration was even higher amongst those that said they could not grow any faster than they were already. 52% of those “maximum growth” companies told our study that they were using these services. The reason for this is that as the turnover of the company grows so the level of finance grows in line with the business.

We have studied new startups and found that only 2% were using these services. In most cases they either didn’t know about these products or assumed that new startups would not qualify, which is incorrect. There are specialist services designed for new start ups.

These are a few of our other key findings that have arisen from studies of existing invoice finance users:

    • 98% of existing users told us that they would recommend invoice finance.


    • On average a business will use these products for 5.28 years during which time they will normally change provider once, in 42% of cases to improve on price.


    • The cheapest invoice finance company varies according to product and the circumstances of a particular prospective user (we have studied this using mystery shopping techniques).


    • Customer satisfaction levels, according to our independent research, tend to be 45% higher where an independent receivables financier is used as opposed to a bank offering these services. Despite this, 51% of users that we surveyed, said they had found their way to these services through their bank.


  • FundInvoice have been able to save 4 out of 5 businesses money on prices quoted elsewhere. On average they have saved clients 37% of their invoice finance costs.



Economic Development Assistance Programs

download (10)The United States Economic Development Administration (USEDA) has announced new funding opportunities through The Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative. This new economic effort was created to help revitalize communities that have been impacted by negative changes in the energy sector. Through this partnership, the EDA solicits applications in rural and urban areas that support construction, non-construction, technical assistance, and revolving fund projects. Economic development assistance grants and awards may be available to the companies responsible for helping with the ongoing revitalization efforts of our community.

What Are The Qualifications?

You must be a company operating in the region that supports the economic growth and revitalization of our community. Questions about whether your company meets the qualification standards may be inquired through our office.

Do I Have to Pay Interest on Grants?

No. Grants are considered gifts. Economic development assistance grants are awarded to companies and do not have to be paid back as long as the conditions of the award are met. It is important to note that you may have to file progress reports from time to time in order to keep your award. Detailed information regarding filing these kinds of reports, if applicable, will be included in your award letter.

How Much Does My Company Qualify For?

This amount is calculated by a measurement developed by the Indiana Business Research Institute, based on an area’s level of distress and its predetermined need. You will have to apply to find out how much your award might be worth.

How Do I Apply For a Grant?

Applications are available online. The grant application process can be very time-consuming, so be sure to apply early and to carefully read the instructions before submitting.

Do I Need to Hire a Grant Writer?

No. Although you may apply for a reward without the assistance of an experienced grant writer, you might consider hiring one. The EDA does not specify who should write your proposal, but we highly recommend having an experienced professional write one. In most cases, you will only have one chance to ask for grant money. Make it count!

How Long Until I Receive a Decision?

It’s impossible to calculate the length of the decision process. Many factors, including the volume of awards sought, should be taken into consideration. You would have to contact the EDA directly to evaluate how long an award might take to be determined.


Your Guide To Choosing A Bank

download (9)If you are moving to another country to live, work and play, it can be both an exciting and nerve-wracking experience. On one hand, you will be able to open yourself up to various opportunities and experiences, all of which you can use to improve yourself. And on the converse side of the coin, you have to deal with a variety of things which may not be totally familiar to you.

Whether you are moving by yourself or with your spouse and/or whole family, you will have a lot of items to tick off your to-do list, including personal banking. Banks in most countries are at par with international standards, following major reforms enforced since the nineties.

The banking system in the country can be characterised as modern and liberal, with several key players including local and foreign banks.

If you are looking for the best credit card, you will be glad to know that your search will not be a difficult one as there are numerous bank branches strategically located in various towns and cities in the countries. And although providing cash remains as the most preferred mode of payment, establishments accept credit and debit card payments.

Internet banking is also offered by local and foreign banks, giving customers greater ease in viewing and managing their bank accounts. Consumers can choose among three basic types of bank accounts: current, savings and deposit accounts. Some banks may offer services which are aligned with the Islamic Sharia.

If you are keen on opening a bank account in the country you are moving in, there are two ways to proceed. First, you can open a bank account upon your arrival in the country. You will need to prepare and present official documentation which will include your passport, residence certificate and visa. It would also be beneficial if you bring with you copies of recent bank statements from your previous bank as well as a recommendation letter.

Alternatively, you can open a bank account before you leave for your new home. Most expats open an international bank account before heading out for the country. This gives them numerous benefits including more banking and payment options to choose from. Before making the final choice of bank to open an account with, it is important to be aware of the bank charges for the services and financial products you might use. This will vary from one bank to another.