Kuwait International Bank’s goal is to become a “Bank for Life” for its customers – putting their needs at the center of every interaction. Khatija Iffath, in her present role as Executive Head of Business Excellence, leads the Retail Transformation at the bank. She shared more on how KIB embarked on a massive transformation, implementing myriad changes to execute its digital banking vision. This interview is a part of the upcoming Digital Reinvention Radar 2023 report brought to you by the Digital Reinvention Community.
Q: Can you tell us more about your bank or your bank group?
A: Incorporated since 1973, Kuwait International Bank (KIB) is a bank that operates according to the Islamic Shari'ah, focusing on offering a next-level customer experience under the slogan: "Bank for Life". KIB offers a full suite of Islamic Banking services and solutions, in addition to innovative banking technology in line with the best international standards.
As part of its duty towards the community, the Bank also encompasses a leading social responsibility program that aims at positively impacting the community. KIB has cemented its role as a key player in the local banking industry and is globally recognized for its strong credit rating and financial position.
Q: Is your bank currently going through a banking transformation process or has it taken up a project of this sort? If so, can you give us more details on the timeline, teams involved, initial aim, etc...
A: A couple of years ago, KIB embarked on a massive transformation, implementing myriad changes to execute its digital banking vision. The bank's new strategy focuses on becoming more customer-centric by offering an integrated customer banking experience, establishing itself as a partner in every aspect of its customers' lives. By embracing technology and innovation as a core component of its business strategy, the bank constantly seeks to provide the latest digital solutions that are user-friendly and easily accessible.
Under the umbrella of this digital revolution. In the retail area, KIB has launched a number of digital banking solutions across all touchpoints and channels. Our Musawama financing product covers areas of health, education, lifestyle, electronic appliances, auto marine equipment, cars, etc. which is offered through our online platform 'PayTally'. Customers can be onboarded end to end digitally using PACI digital signature and can-do contactless payments securely using digital wallets such as Apple Pay, Samsung, Fitbit, and Garmin.
Our online platforms are continuously enriched with service offering, the Contact Center is equipped with services to support customers to bank from home, including our video conferencing service.
We have launched a first-of-its-kind loyalty platform in Kuwait to incentivize transactional and customer engagement loyalty.
Finally, we are changing the look and feel of our branches to a new and modern futuristic design concept that will facilitate a "Phygital" ecosystem with a fully integrated customer digital experience.
Q: What prompted this transformation process? What was the initial goal? Were you driven by any particular macro trends or competitive dynamics?
A: KIB wanted to truly put the customer at the center of every interaction. Its ambitious new approach to customer services sees it transforming the entire customer experience to include a mix of physical and digital channels. Furthermore, we understand that in today's world, branch format needs to evolve from a standardized bank network to a new concept. KIB will strongly push digital for all operations and our branch network, apart from serving as brand anchors, will be used for lead generation and financial advisory for both individual and corporate clients.
Q: What does your competitive landscape look like in the transformation aspect? How do you position yourself against the competition?
A: KIB is operating in a highly competitive and saturated market. Upward profit rates put pressure on financing growth. Consolidation, mergers and acquisitions in the banking industry intensify the already raging competition. Digital transformation is a priority for all local banks, as the youth segment continues to grow. Digital-only banks have become the newest addition to a wide range of fierce competitors and their rise, along with FinTech start-ups, has put more pressure on traditional organizations to modernize and re-evaluate the needs of their customers.
But KIB has been gearing up, as we recognize that approaching digital features parity means needing to expand beyond basic banking products. We continue to work diligently to develop our retail banking activities by modernizing our systems and enhancing our investments in building a robust digital infrastructure. This digital infrastructure exploits the latest technologies of modern financial technology through partnerships with the best providers of such services around the world.
Q: What has been the impact of this transformation project so far? Can you specify what has changed and how?
A: Our transformation strategy has truly paid off and shown great changes. Customer interaction on our digital channels has increased radically. Our application users increase by 20% to 30% each year. Branch waiting time has seen a drastic decrease.
KIB also achieved strong growth in our banking activities, improved services provided to our customers, and built new business relationships with new customers & corporates from various economic sectors.
This is all a result of KIB's rapid response to our customers' ever-changing requirements. We constantly listen to the voice of our customers through customer satisfaction surveys. In fact, a couple of years back, Service Hero Company reported that the average customer satisfaction index growth rate of KIB has more than doubled the market growth when compared with local banks in the past few years.
At the same time, we armed ourselves with constructive developments in our operations, which positively reflected on our business model, gaining more flexibility, and enhancing our ability to respond to and predict market changes in the short term.
Q: Are there any plans to include more business lines, or are there any future relevant transformation projects you can mention? What is your/your institution's vision for the future of financial services in this aspect?
A: Every year we at KIB see both incremental and radical change initiatives taken to live true to our vision of 'Bank for Life'. This means providing customers with an eco-system of innovative financial solutions; creating a long-term, dynamic and motivating work environment for our staff, and focusing on delivering value to our stakeholders. We exist to serve and fulfill financial needs holistically and efficiently.