Thursday, Apr 2, 2020
International Finance
Islamic Banking Magazine

Al Wateen: A unique digital factory in the Kuwait Islamic banking sector

Kuwait’s Warba Bank is pioneering digital banking innovation in the Gulf countries with an in-house centre to develop exclusive digital products and services

Warba Bank was established on February 17, 2010 by an Amiri decree with the aim to boost the Kuwait economy after the crisis witnessed by Kuwait at that time. On April 7, 2010, Warba Bank joined the Islamic banks register at the Central Bank of Kuwait. Over the years, Warba Bank has strived to meet the financial aspirations of Kuwaitis and has earned their trust.

In a short time, the Bank has managed to position itself as a leader in Islamic digital retail banking solutions in the Kuwait banking sector. Warba Bank is steadily advancing on its vision to become an Islamic corporate and investment banking champion in Kuwait with a lean digitally-enabled retail business. The bank reached a critical milestone in its digital journey when it launched ‘Al Wateen’,  the bank’s ‘digital factory’ or digital centre of innovation.

Through Al Wateen, the bank’s team develops exclusive digital products and services for customers placing them at the forefront of the bank’s interest. In an exclusive interview with International Finance, Shaheen Al Ghanem, Warba Bank CEO, speaks about the bank’s digital transformation journey, the key digital milestones achieved by the nank, and how the bank overcame challenges in its digital journey.

 

International Finance: Why did Warba Bank embark on this digital journey?

 

Shaheen Hamad Al Ghanim: Warba Bank is steadily moving into a new era of development and innovation by enhancing its digital infrastructure. This is the result of a number of achievements that the bank has accomplished over the past few years.

We have infused investments into our digital infrastructure to keep abreast of the technological innovations in the banking industry. Our goal is to cater to growing customer demands for digital banking services at a time when smartphones have become virtual banks enabling customers to undertake several banking transactions smoothly, safely, and easily.

Today, Warba Bank has topped its digital innovation efforts by launching our digital factory ‘Al Wateen’, through which the bank’s in-house team develops and innovates exclusive digital products and services that will pave the way for a revolutionary new era in the Islamic banking sector in Kuwait. Al Wateen is the output of the bank’s digital strategy that aims, among other things, to position the bank as a champion in digital banking services and increase its market share using a digital innovation framework.

What are the key milestones achieved by Warba Bank in its digital journey?

In 2017, we set a five-year digital strategy for the bank and we have been able to achieve a series of objectives, such as achieving profitability growth and offering pioneering services to customers while continuing to build corporate franchises, setting up the bank’s digital banking capabilities, and ensuring careful expansion.

Based on our strategy, we are glad to declare that Warba Bank is steadily moving into a new era of development and innovation in enhancing its digital infrastructure. We have been able to complete the first phase of the strategic transformation which resulted in the development of a digital infrastructure to deliver sales growth and profitability.

In 2018, the bank started the second phase of its digital strategy that focuses on strengthening its digital capabilities and making all possible efforts to innovatively compete to catch up with the global digital trends in the banking industry. This deliberate approach enables the bank to overcome competition in the retail banking sector in Kuwait by providing distinct digital services and helps us effectively attain our targets.

How do you envision the digital future of Warba Bank? Can you describe your digital plans across the various sections of the bank?

Today, Warba Bank is firmly determined in its approach for enhancing and driving digital transformation in the Kuwait Islamic banking sector in accordance with the highest international standards, paving the way to achieve a leading position in this sector.

With the launch of the first digital factory in the Kuwait banking industry, ‘Al Wateen’, that functions as a digital innovation centre based on teamwork and cooperation across the bank’s departments and groups, the bank has reached a key digital transformation milestone.

At the digital factory, we apply the customer- centric approach placing customer interest as our top priority, investing our focus and attention on providing customers with top-notch, fast, reliable, and secure services while proactively meeting their financial needs.

What kind of challenges have you encountered in your digital transformation journey? How did you overcome them?

We have faced challenges since the inception of Warba Bank. Since its early days, Warba Bank’s main focus has been to introduce a new era in the Kuwait Islamic banking industry. It has emerged as a leading Kuwait bank that serves all sections of the Kuwaiti society.

When Warba Bank embarked on its journey, we faced all the challenges and economic difficulties that plagued the region at that time. Warba Bank went on its journey with determination and perseverance driven by its responsibility towards shareholders and customers whose confidence and trust provided us with solid support and motivated the bank to launch innovative services, products, and solutions that have been exemplary in the Islamic banking industry in Kuwait.

So, our ten-year journey of hard work enabled Warba Bank to become one of the leading and the fastest growing banks in the Kuwaiti banking sector, making its way through severe competition and enhancing its footprint in the development of the sector by leveraging digital innovation.

That said, despite all challenges, today Warba Bank is firmly determined in its approach to enhancing and driving digital transformation in the banking sector in Kuwait in accordance with the highest international standards, which will pave the way for its continued leading position in the Kuwait banking sector.

What has been behind the Bank’s decision to develop Al Wateen? How do you see this as an enabler for digital sustainability within the Bank?

Under the slogan ‘ONE OF YOU’, Warba Bank’s priority is to ensure that Al Wateen should be a source of inspiration to the entire Kuwaiti community from which it has emerged. We see each Kuwaiti as a shareholder in Warba Bank, which increases the bank’s responsibility to care for each one in the society and establish strong communication channels with the Kuwaiti people while meeting all the global standards of digital banking services that we seek to establish.

At the digital factory, we apply the customer – centric approach placing customer interest as top priority of our focus and attention to provide customers with top-notch, fast, reliable, and secure services while proactively meeting customer needs.

We can say that Al Wateen will drive our digital journey into the future through which the bank’s team will challenge the traditional banking industry and introduce digital evolution into the Kuwait banking sector to benefit customers and create communication channels connecting Kuwaiti Islamic banking customers and the Islamic banking ecosystem.

It is set to be an important source of inspiration for everyone interacting with Warba Bank whether they are customers, employees, or shareholders. Al Wateen’s early achievement is the development of the first application of its kind in Kuwait to offer solutions that solidify relationships with customers. The new digital banking application is designed to give customers an enjoyable user journey through its intuitive features.  The application provides easy and versatile access to many services that enable customers to perform transactions quickly and easily.

 

 

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