Leading global IT consultancy, Xebia, has underscored the importance of banks in the region understanding the seismic shift in the banking sector – a rapid pivot towards digitisation as a result of, amongst other factors, the pandemic, however, many banks are now lagging behind as they do not have the knowledge, skills or experience to undergo the necessary digital transformation.
Shankar Garg, Managing Director MEA, Xebia
Netherlands-headquartered Xebia has had a presence in the region since opening its Dubai office in 2016. Since then, the company has helped many forward-thinking companies undergo digital transformation in sectors as diverse as banking, airlines, real estate, government, financial services and insurance.
In the UAE, changing customer preferences, high mobile penetration rates and growing competition from fintech companies and challenger banks* are pushing the need for rapid change in a sector.
Regional governments are also keen to encourage the digitisation of financial services to promote continued global competitiveness. And while new banks – and new financial services companies – are jumping ahead of the curve without dealing with legacy issues, more traditional and bleeding-edge banks still require support in making the transition.
Shankar Garg, Managing Director MEA, Xebia, says, “We help some of the world’s leading companies overcome their digital challenges, embrace innovation, adopt new technology, and implement new business models.”
“There’s something of a paradigm shift in the sector, with a need for digital payments, digital-only banks, cloud-based software, apps and storage, and the rise of Open Banking. This can create a confusing array of solutions for a bank, but Xebia can help ensure the right technology is adopted at the right budget.”
Xebia’s highly experienced and knowledgeable regional team brings clarity to banks needing to both understand and accelerate their digital transformation journey.
“Banking is far more global today, and regional banks are in danger of being left behind unless they develop a digitalisation strategy. Xebia has the talent, the tools and the technology to help the financial sector stay ahead of the curve and be fully prepared for the bright new digital era,” adds Garg.
Xebia is currently working with three of Saudi Arabia’s leading banks on 21st-century digitalisation solutions. It recently helped a leading UAE bank develop a world-class mobile banking experience.
Xebia is globally renowned for its coding expertise, focusing on full-stack development, Agile and DevOps expertise. But today, the company is seeing a wave of interest in Low Code – a highly visual, more straightforward approach to software development that brings cost efficiencies and saves time.
The company has identified various opportunities, challenges and issues relating to banking trends. These include a shift to digital and instant payments. From 2020 to 2025, the Middle East digital payments industry is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 6.5%, driven by the steep increase in e-commerce sales, ubiquitous internet connectivity, and high smartphone penetration.
The rapid regional growth in digital banks and payment institutions is backed by advanced AI and analytics, which can better utilise data to detect consumer preferences and push relevant offers.
“Such analytics – almost available in real-time – can help banks manage risk, create stronger payment predictions and help deliver faster loan decisions. It’s a win-win for customers, who expect faster, online service, and for the banks, who can provide faster, more effective decision making while mitigating risk,” explains digitalisation expert Garg.
Garg reveals the company is also seeing a rapid move towards digital branches, utilising automation to the full, to help customers achieve their banking needs 24/7/365.
Garg says, “We are seeing more regional banks showing interest in developing full-service kiosks, with digital appointments and video conferencing, mobile tellers, and AI-based hyper-personalization. While financial business has traditionally been conducted face-to-face in this region, many banks are now embracing digital products to help make them more tech-savvy, paperless, and people-friendly – all while delivering better, more personalised care to customers.”
Cloud computing and cloud data storage are still nascent in the region, but Xebia is poised to help the region’s banking sector shift to more cost-effective, always-on cloud computing-based solutions. Using cloud-based computing allows banks – mindful of the cost of digitalisation – to optimise infrastructure and performance.
Open Banking is also gaining traction as a technology solution that connects banks, third parties and technical providers – enabling them to simply and securely exchange data for their customers’ benefit. Xebia’s solutions include developing a single customer interface where a raft of online activities, transactions, transfers, and purchases can be made via the bank’s online offering.
Xebia has worked with more than 150 banking and financial service providers globally, helping them navigate the sector’s technology landscape complexities. Underscoring the company’s expertise in the industry, Garg recently received the MEA Financing Banking Technology Awards 2022 for Most Innovative Mobile Banking App on behalf of Xebia during an award ceremony held at the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.
*Challenger banks, often called neo banks, tend to be technology-first, digital-only small financial service providers that compete directly with longer-established, more traditional brick-and-mortar banks.