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  • SAB is leading digital services and enhancing artificial intelligence (AI)

    March 2024


    Saudi Awwal Bank is one of the leading banks in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia which is adopting digital solutions in its operations and services. It focuses on providing the best possible customer experience in its dealings while prioritising data privacy and security.

    Its future plan includes adopting the latest and most innovative solutions, including artificial intelligence to enhance its customers’ experience. Customers can access “SAB” digital services locally and internationally, as it is a partner of the wider HSBC Group. “SAB” believes that focusing on digital services has helped it enhance its growth, expand its customer base, and increase its loyalty.

    Here is a conversation with Bandar Al-Gheshayan, Chief Wealth & Personal Banking Officer at “SAB”, about the development of digital services at the bank and their implications for improving the customer experience:

    • What is “SAB's” strategy for the development of digital payments?

    “SAB” has inked several partnerships with prominent firms to enhance the customer experience by developing digital payment solutions and facilitating international transfers. These initiatives prioritise simplicity and efficiency, empowering customers to effortlessly send and receive money through various channels, including cash receipts, digital wallets, and international accounts. As part of our collaboration with the HSBC Group, we introduced the global account wallet service. This innovative offering enables SAB customers to swiftly and securely transfer funds from their accounts to their HSBC accounts anywhere in the world.

    • How has the growth of digital services reflected on SAB's results and market share?

    The growth of digital services in the banking sector has had a significant impact on SAB's results and market share as it has led to an increase in our customer base, as well as provided convenience and ease of access that has attracted new customers. These services have enhanced customer engagement and retention and provided value-added services. These customised digital experiences have led to deepening customer relationships and increasing their loyalty towards the brand. In addition, it has been in line with the objectives of the Vision 2030 – which is focused on the development of the financial sector.

    • What are the most notable achievements in the field of digital services?

    “SAB” has been at the forefront of digital services, providing unique features, innovative products and seamless user experiences. The bank's commitment to excellence has been acknowledged through prestigious accolades, including the “Best Bank for Digital Solutions in KSA” and “Best Bank in Saudi Arabia” Awards from Euromoney in 2023. Additionally, “SAB” was honoured with the “Best Consumer Digital Bank” Award by Global Finance in the same year. The bank has consistently achieved high rankings in reputable studies conducted by industry-leading companies, further solidifying its position as a frontrunner in the realm of digital services.

    • What are the most prominent digital banking services and products that “SAB” has recently launched to contribute to improving the customer experience?

    Over the past year, the bank's digital channels have been developed to enhance the financial services for customers and provide tailored banking solutionsto their needs, aimed at improving their experience and reducing the need for customers to visit the branches.

    To streamline processes and offer convenience, “SAB” introduced a digital journey for credit card and personal finance applications, enabling customers to obtain initial approval for real estate financing. Additionally, the bank launched the “SAB” store, which allows customers to purchase digital gift cards, and introduced the Wafer Account, a savings tool. Furthermore, “SAB” 360 service was introduced, empowering customers to manage their monthly expenses effectively.

    In terms of services, “SAB” has successfully integrated its digital channels with various service providers. This collaboration has greatly enhanced the customer experience across multiple products and improved the overall customer journey. Moreover, customers can now conveniently issue necessary documents for financial services, such as account statements and digital cards, as well as perform tasks like opening accounts and updating personal information without needing to visit a branch.

    • Does the bank’s digital strategy affect the privacy and security of customers’ data?

    “SAB” digital banking strategy prioritises the privacy and security of customers’ data through robust measures such as encryption protocols, multi-factor authentication, advanced firewalls and regular security audits. Maintaining strict adherence to data protection regulations is a top priority for “SAB”, guaranteeing the confidentiality and security of customer information against unauthorised access or breaches. The bank consistently monitors compliance and makes investments in cutting-edge cybersecurity technologies to reinforce its commitment to upholding the highest standards of privacy and security in the digital banking realm. “SAB” has also taken proactive measures to integrate its digital channels with advanced systems that safeguard customers from financial fraud. In addition to complying with regulations, the bank has implemented additional precautions to ensure enhanced customer protection.

    • Does “SAB” offer additional benefits or bonuses to customers who choose to use digital banking services?

    Of course! Customers who opt for digital banking services enjoy a range of additional benefits and rewards. These perks encompass fee waivers for specific transactions and services conducted through digital channels, as well as cashback and rewards for designated digital transactions. Furthermore, digital banking customers gain access to exclusive promotions and discounts. “SAB” offers the "ICSAB+" Rewards Program, which enables customers to redeem points through the ICSAB+ digital platform for a variety of reward options.

    Moreover, customers experience indirect benefits such as convenience, time savings, and the freedom to perform transactions anytime and anywhere without the need to visit a branch.

    • What are the future plans? Does “SAB” plan to adopt artificial intelligence in its operations, risk assessment, consulting, and fraud detection?

    Yes, we have a clear vision for the future, and we plan to adopt artificial intelligence in key areas, enhancing operational efficiency, improving risk management, providing customised customer experiences, and strengthening security measures.

    AI will help us automate routine and repetitive tasks, improve efficiency, and reduce human error. It will help us assess risks, detect fraud and its indicators and monitor transactions and patterns to detect and prevent suspicious activities in real time. This proactive approach enhances our security measures and protects customer accounts without the need for human intervention.

    We have also introduced new AI-powered communication channels to handle customer inquiries and assist with basic banking tasks.

    • What is “SAB's” contribution to the Open Banking Program?

    “SAB” has embraced the Saudi Vision 2030 and actively participates in the Open Banking Program, which is a key initiative of the Fintech Strategy under the Financial Sector Development Program.

    The first stage of the Open Banking Program has been launched and the primary objective of this program is to foster innovation by leveraging approved data sharing to offer tailored banking services through third-party service providers.


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