x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Mashreq Bank rolls out high-tech offerings to entice customers

Equipped with US$50,000 of gadgets and electronic wizardry, the outlet at Dubai Mall is the latest of 12 new ‘E Cubed’ branches the bank is opening across the UAE.

Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair, Mashreq’s chief executive, has been optimistic a strong comeback for the UAE banking sector. Satish Kumar / The National
Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair, Mashreq’s chief executive, has been optimistic a strong comeback for the UAE banking sector. Satish Kumar / The National

A virtual “avatar” designed to interact with customers and a touch screen to buy cinema tickets are among the high-tech features of Mashreq’s new branch.

Equipped with US$50,000 of gadgets and electronic wizardry, the outlet at Dubai Mall is the latest of 12 new “E Cubed” branches the bank is opening across the UAE.

The bank says it is responding to customers’ requests to make banking simpler and enjoyable.

Mashreq says customers have responded well to the technology. Since the launch of similar branches in Dubai Internet City and Ibn Battuta Mall, customer traffic has increased 36 per cent.

The lender is the latest in the industry that is seeking to shed its once staid image for a more contemporary one. In March, Commercial Bank International said it was opening four branches with iPads for customers to use and other high-tech innovations.

The investment in so-called “smart banking” coincides with an upturnin banks’ retail businesses as consumer confidence improves.

“The economy is doing well, the consumer is back and life is back and people want to go back to living,” said Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair, Mashreq’s chief executive.

Farhad Irani, the bank’s head of retail banking, said retail loan growth this year was likely to grow at around 8 per cent, twice the GDP growth rate.

Mashreq’s Dubai Mall outlet has an interactive touch-screen table where customers can find the interest rates and repayment periods for personal, car and housing loans.

A virtual “avatar” greets customers who can get information using interactive arm gestures.

Another feature of the outlet is Mashreq GO, which allows new customers to open a current account with a cheque book, debit and credit cards in 30 minutes.

Customers can also buy Dubai Mall movie tickets using the touch screen.

Mashreq has incorporated other initiatives such as a mobile phone application offering customers discounts of up to 35 per cent at more than 700 restaurants, electronic stickers enabling customers to make small purchases by waving them over the checkout sensors, and a device that customers can use to pay for home deliveries.

On Wednesday, the bank reported a 34 per cent year-on-year rise in net profit for the first nine months of the year to Dh1.3 billion.

tarnold@thenational.ae