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Commercial Bank’s Unique Approach to Digital Transformation

IFM_ The Commercial Bank
Commercial Bank of Qatar has strategically driven the market for highly convenient, customer-friendly, secure banking solutions

Dr. Leonie Lethbridge, Chief Operating Officer at Commercial Bank of Qatar, stated that the Bank has transformed the experience of banking in the country as a result of its innovative ideas.

The 5-year transformation strategy of Commercial Bank is being put into action, and important components include changing the revenue and cost bases, improving the customer experience, and using digital innovation in both client and operational operations.

Thanks to the Commercial Bank’s Board of Directors and the Executive Management’s vision, strong results were obtained with execution tracking ahead of schedule, as evidenced by a 2% rising share price during the last 12 months.

International Finance caught up with the COO of Commercial Bank of Qatar, Dr. Leonie Lethbridge, who shared her insights about the innovative services of Commercial Bank, business strategies, digital transformation, and much more.

IF: What are the standout features of Commercial Bank? What kind of innovative services does Commercial Bank provide?
Dr. Leonie Lethbridge: Commercial Bank of Qatar has strategically driven the market for highly convenient, customer-friendly, secure banking solutions. This approach has harnessed innovation to deliver truly client centric approaches: increasing engagement through mobile devices and technologies such as biometric authentication; proactively creating a wide array of digital products and services; and enabling self-service and service on demand distribution channels.

Leonie Lethbridge, Chief Operating Officer
Leonie Lethbridge, Chief Operating Officer

The Bank has rightfully earned its place as a pioneer financial institution in Qatar by leading the national vision of digitization in the banking sector. One of the main reasons behind that is the clear strategy that is well communicated to the key stakeholders and well understood within the organization.

The payments ecosystem has been one area of focus, and in the lead up to the FIFA World Cup, this will become almost cashless. CB Pay is an early Commercial Bank innovation which provides a convenient mechanism for merchants to receive payments through QR codes without the need for POS machines. Commercial Bank also provides Virtual POS solutions that require a smart phone only, for merchants to be able to conduct POS transactions.

For Premium and Wealth Management clients, our digital relationship management service showcases our approach to customer convenience. Completely at clients’ discretion and convenience, the solution is not merely video conferencing, but rather enables fully remote face-to-face banking, where advice can be provided, documents can be exchanged and signed, and transactions facilitated. The security of the service is, of course, fully assured.

What does Commercial Bank provide to its customers that distinguishes it from other banks?
The main factor that distinguishes Commercial Bank from others is the ease of use, and breadth of solutions we’ve created to meet our customers’ needs. Solutions combine cutting-edge technology with a strong focus on understanding actual client needs, to deliver a superior customer experience for each banking service.

Our online and mobile banking services are distinctively comprehensive, fully meeting day-to-day banking needs. We provide our customers with the capabilities to conduct their banking activities entirely at their own convenience without the need to engage service staff, or visit a branch. We measure success by the actual adoption of specific services and the satisfaction of customers towards those services.

Among individual customers during 2021, active digital users increased by 15%. Of these, mobile usage represented 94% of all digital transactions. Adoption of mobile-friendly technologies, such as biometric registrations, continue to increase at approximately 25% per annum. For transaction banking, Apple Pay, Google Pay and other mobile payment solutions are well appreciated by our clients.

Online and mobile banking solutions also play an increasingly important role for corporate clients. In 2021, clients accessing banking services via mobile devices increased by 20% and, importantly, there was 30% growth in business owners and decision makers using CB’s mobile solutions to approve transactions.

Bespoke solutions were created for our corporate clients who are also seeking to extend their digital reach and service proposition.

Other solutions which heighten the convenience and level of service offered by the Bank, include:
CB Instant Account: Customers apply on their mobile device and after uploading KYC documentation, receive their bank account number in less than five minutes.
CB Arriving Expat Accounts: An exclusive partnership with Qatar’s offshore visa issuing centres enabled support of expat customers by opening a CB account for them whilst they completed immigration formalities, and before arrival in Qatar.
Sadara Youth: CB’s exclusive program dedicated to Qatari customers aged between 18 and 25 years includes the first mobile banking application in Qatar to reward young customers.
Small and Medium Enterprise banking: New, digital channels have given SMEs better control over cash flows, and flexibility to securely transact from the comfort of their offices.

CB continues to score highly on customer satisfaction through surveys and ratings, with its digitization efforts particularly recognized both by independent agencies and customers. Customer satisfaction remains very high with net promoter score ratings above 74.

Can you tell us about Commercial Bank’s business strategy?
During the past year, Commercial Bank was able to demonstrate strong execution of the Bank’s strategic plan to support customers, and to deliver sustainable earnings through its five Cs: Corporate Earnings Quality, Client Experience, Creativity and Innovation, Culture, and Compliance. The Bank’s achievements were recognized with a slew of awards during 2022 including “Best Serving Business Owners” in Private Banking and Wealth Management in Qatar for the second consecutive year from Euromoney, and “Best Bank in Qatar” for the third year from Global Finance. The Bank has also been awarded 9 prestigious awards from Global Finance on both the consumer and corporate levels, in Qatar, regionally and globally. Also, the Bank won “Best Trade Finance Provider in Qatar” and “The Most Outstanding Innovation in Fraud Detection award in the world” from Global Finance, as well as the Best Bank for Corporate Banking in Qatar from Euromoney. Commercial Bank has been recognised as the Most Innovative Customer Service Bank in Qatar, for the second consecutive year, and the Most Innovative Mobile Trading App in Qatar from International Finance Magazine.

In addition to investments in digital technologies, excellence in communication to support clear, simple banking is a focus. Commercial Bank’s social media approach encouraged customers to #GoDigital in six languages across all available channels, using friendly, understandable language.

Commercial Bank extends innovation to our communication approaches, and this is clearly reflected in Commercial Bank’s continuing commitment to its audience to include:
CB TikTok – Rashed’s Financial Tips: responding to a study indicating that millennials in the region prefer to manage finances on their own rather than seek help directly, Commercial Bank offered tailored financial guidance on TikTok. One of the Bank’s most popular series is ‘Rashed’s Financial Tips’, presented weekly by a senior branch banker, Rashed Al Boainain.
Qatar University Innovation Contest: CB collaborated with Qatar University to launch a first-ever competition for Qatar University students to design their own space at Qatar University Metro Station. From 29 original entries, six groups of finalists were shortlisted and four granted prizes from QR 1,000 to 5,000, with the winning idea implemented on the ground.
#CBsafe: A public awareness anti-fraud campaign revolving around the slogan ‘Check. Stop. Report’, with tips on how to identify scam attempts and how to respond. Campaign publicity included collaboration with ‘I Love Qatar’, the biggest online platform for expats in Qatar. It involved usage of cartoon figures to communicate in a simple easy way with customers.

We can say this approach has earned Commercial Bank a leading position amongst the financial institutions in Qatar, and the trust of our global financial partners.

Commercial Bank has made excellent, targeted use of technology. What do you want to say about the digital transformation of Commercial Bank?
Commercial Bank embarked on a digitization journey five years ago and has subsequently adopted a highly creative approach to it. The future of banking lies at the intersection of clients, their information, and technology. The ability to respond quickly, and innovatively in delivering client-centric offerings will be important, particularly as banking and financial solutions will continue to be absorbed into sectors beyond banking, such as telecommunications, and by Big Technology. Commercial Bank has a unique approach to digital transformation, including harnessing modern-day technologies such as AI and machine learning to better understand our customers’ behaviour and requirements, and to offer a one-of-a-kind banking experience.

Also, given the fact that security goes hand in hand with digitization, Commercial Bank has put cyber security at the forefront of its strategy. Our continuous efforts at innovation aim to earn the trust of our customers and partners to bank with us, while maintaining a secure environment.

Commercial Bank has well embraced digital transformation, setting an example of successful strategy, proper execution, and commitment to excellence. We have created a world-class, agile technology capability with the ability to deliver digital scalable, automated innovations at speed.

Commercial Bank has the vision that 100% of your customers can do banking anywhere, anytime. Tell us about it?
As clients increasingly want to do everything seamlessly and easily without visiting a branch, we took charge of empowering customers to choose the time, place, and manner in which they engage with the services provided by the Bank.

Commercial Bank has raised the level of expectation for its customers. We have been able to digitally process 99% of our retail customer transactions and 95% of our trade and funds transfer transactions throughout the day by successfully applying the methods of adoption and utilization of technology.

These levels of digitization and customer adoption point to a future in which our customers will be able to perform all their banking services from the palm of their hands, at any time of day.

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