Digitisation of banking sector to create new opportunities in Middle East

The drop in oil prices has caused disruption and instability in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region, great uncertainty sometimes stems from great transitions, and this just might be the transition from an oil-dependent economy, to a digital economy that appeals to a predominantly young and growing population, said Ramez Shehadi, Executive VP and MD, Booz Allen Hamilton Mena.

Digitisation is a key engine that enables growth through the transition from a consumer to a creator society. Investments in digitisation are no longer a nice to have rather they have become a must have as they create a broad socioeconomic impact in a country. This impact covers GDP growth and job creation, collaboration enablement and social inclusion, knowledge creation, innovation and entrepreneurship.



Digital transformation in the financial sector (and beyond) has the potential to create a myriad of new services. With the creation of these new services comes the need to support their development, marketing, provisioning and continuous enhancement, among other requirements, which will support the creation of jobs across the current and future financial services value chain.

“There is no doubt that digital transformation in the financial sector will fuel job creation especially for personnel with specialized skills such as data scientist, digital app developers, digital payment experts, and cybersecurity specialists. It will also fuel lateral job movements and a repositioning of current jobs in the financial sector, whereby traditional counter clerk positions will transition to financial services analyst positions,” said Shehadi.

With the power of advanced data analytics, today’s counter clerk will be able to proactively and predictively offer a customer the most personalized services required when that customer enters a financial center, or over the phone or internet — based on data insights from that customer’s financial behavior.

New revenue streams: As digital financial sectors evolve, revenue from fees-based services — be it for cheque books, credit-card usage, transactions, and so on — is likely to vanish due to the growing number of digital users. New revenue streams in the financial sector will evolve more and more over the years, with an initial focus on paid-for apps that help customers realise timely and personalized services. To start with, these financial management tools will be value add or VIP services offered for elite customers.

“Customer data will become the gold mine to monetize. It will allow a multitude of private sector establishments to benefit from data insights related to spending patterns, financial capabilities and income thresholds of customers,” said Shehadi

Data analytics capabilities will eventually allow for Data-Analysis-as-a-Service (DAaaS) offerings to different establishments — a merging of today’s credit rating companies and financial institutions, for example. Future collaborations with telecom providers will facilitate seamless financial services (mainly payments) or co-branding, leading to invisible revenue generation. These and other new revenue streams might require a relook at the current regulations governing the financial sector.

Data loss

The financial services sector along with other sectors of the economy are facing serious threats of data loss. Too many financial companies go down the Data Loss Prevention (DLP) solutions without an integrated strategic plan. They may lack data classification policies and programs, and may not understand or know where all their data resides.

“There is a need for alignment of the DLP solution to the threats faced by the organisation. For example, financial companies versus say health care providers have fundamentally different perspectives and regulatory requirements on what data should be protected — so there is no one size fits all solution,” said Shehadi.

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