As the head of alternate channels at Mashreq, it is Aref Al Ramli's job to oversee the lender's move into new technologies, such as mobile banking and applications.
Mr Al Ramli says consumers in the UAE are embracing the banking-on-the-go concept - and it won't be long before cardless ATMs are introduced here.
How does the UAE compare with the rest of the world for banking technology?
The UAE is the highest in terms of mobile usage in the region, according to a number of studies carried out. Consumer behaviour is showing a positive change in terms of usage of mobile banking, while they are starting to demand advancements in technology that is similar or better to what is being employed by banking giants in other parts of the world.
What's the difference between an app and an online platform?
The convenience it provides: banking anywhere. The mobile application is an enhanced version designed especially for a mobile device. Today, individuals can make transactions almost from anywhere and at any time. Although online banking performs equally in terms of payments and transaction status, you need to log in and make transactions using an internet device. Customers are constantly looking for quick solutions that meet their requirements and offer them value-added benefits.
Are consumers concerned about security for mobile banking?
Consumers are embracing mobile banking and its usage is growing rapidly. The substantial growth in registrations for Mashreq's mobile banking application, Snapp, is extremely satisfying. Unlike several other banks, we do not provide a link to the Web for Snapp, but provide a complete solution in the form of an application to carry out financial transactions. However, having said that, at present, mobile banking is yet to take the mainstream, both in terms of technology and acceptance as users most often cite security, reliability and usability as key factors for adoption.
What is more secure: mobile or online banking?
Mobile banking and online banking are equally secure. They run on similar platforms and as long as customers do not reveal their credentials, they are totally secure.
What's the future of mobile banking in the UAE?
I would say the future is entirely towards mobile banking. Three years from now, most payment transactions will take place through mobile banking, be it buying airline tickets, paying school fees, insurance instalments, paying fines or any other transaction. It's extremely convenient, secure, easy to use and works in real time. Life will be completely dependent on mobile banking in the near future and it will eradicate the existence of plastic cards.
What's next for the technology?
The recent viable development in mobile banking is that payments can be made using near-field communication. It's a wireless technology and uses a secured platform to exchange sensitive data on a contactless basis. This technology will certainly reduce the usage of credit and debit cards over a period of time and gradually will lead to the elimination of plastic for making any sort of payments.
Will we see cardless ATMs here, similar to the ones unveiled in the United Kingdom recently?
The development is already in progress and we shall soon be launching the cardless ATMs here in the UAE. This will unveil the usage of ATMs in a CNP [card not present] scenario, which will increase the confidentiality and sensitivity of the data being exchanged. The demand for this is picking up and we've noticed consumers positively accepting the advancement in technology in places where they have already been launched, such as in the United States and the UK.