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The new norm of digital banking!

Kuwait’s Al Ahli bank (AHB) has established itself as the leading retail and corporate banking provider services in not only Kuwait but also in Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. It belief in delivering transformative power of technology to its customers is what enables the bank to be more efficient and thus the bank is able to perform continuously on various other platform too. By leveraging the focus on digital technology and streamlining its offering helped introduce many number of innovative solutions and made banking become accessible to its customers. The solutions transformed from the traditional banking approach. Made life simpler and created a greater value.   

As ABK was quick in adapting to the crisis of the pandemic, the bank could have a digital makeover over the past two years. This helped the bank stand in the way of the pandemic and yet flourish. Establishment of a special task force to ensure that the interaction between the staff and the customers were well communicated all the time was one such initiative.

AKB having the experience of working with the Central bank of Kuwait and Kuwait banking association, the necessary and required changes were made well in order during the primary stages of the outbreak itself. Implementations like facilitating a full 24 hour cash replenishment and enabling the access of customers to funds at the times were the first priority according to Stewart Lockie, Head of Retail banking at AHB.

Health guidance and an up to date banking advice, day to day announcements were all communicated to the customers around the clock by enabling all communication channels to run effectively.  The time of crisis became a great opportunity for all the banks including AHB to inculcate the digital banking systems and to promote it to its customers and there was a 61 percent increase up front.

It was also one among the few first banks to launch a tokenised solution system which supported Samsung , Fitbit and Garmin Pay applications. As a way of providing its customers a platform for digital banking with contactless payments which helped to make transactions from a distance. AHB also launched voice biometrics which offered highest levels of security at the same time a convenient pre-authentication when calling the customer support. It has announced to releasing Chatbot solutions shortly aiming at quick delivery of secure and effective solutions without having to visit the bank.

Partnering with Kuwait’s National Aviation Service in order to provide a complementary fast track meet and assist for the passengers is another initiative by AHB. Assistance like hoe baggage delivery, booking of specific seats in VIP lounges etc. Provision of ‘At home solutions’ through their local partner concierge Qiblah , they offer more than 20 such services without the need to leave their homes.

The digital journey of AKB has been smooth sailing and has ben its fore front in its current strategy and acted as a core of success even in its future. It ensures to meet the demands of tech savvy generations for the bank’s sustained growth which should encourage an approach toward more remote banking solutions.

Banking

Goldman banker hired by the Citi bank

Citigroup has hired Luisa Leyenaar-Huntingford from Goldman Sachs. This new hire is to co-head its global infrastructure franchise. Because, it seeks to win more business from cash-rich investment firms focusing on infrastructure deals. Leyenaar-Huntingford will be based in London. Responsibility will be shared with Todd Guenther in New York.

The pair will work closely with industry teams covering healthcare, industrials, natural resources and clean energy transition (NRCET), technology and communications. Leyenaar-Huntingford helped in the establishment of the Goldman’s infrastructure franchise in her time at the Wall Street bank. They will team up with Citi’s Iberia co-head of banking, capital markets and advisory (BCMA) Jorge Ramos will continue to be a senior member of the global infrastructure franchise.

The infrastructure sector is poised for further growth, according to the memo. The memo was released by Citi’s global co-heads of the alternative assets group Anthony Diamandakis and John Eydenberg, and its EMEA head of BCMA Nacho Gutierrez-Orrantia. There was significant private investment demand across the globe to deal with environmental, energy, transportation, waste, communication, digital and other social needs.

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Banking

Banks make slow progress on UK gender pay

Major banks in Britain made a slight dent in their gender pay gaps. Several insurers went backwards. Companies in Britain with more than 250 employees have been required to publish the difference between the pay and bonuses of their male and female employees. They got a reprieve due to the pandemic, last year. The financial services sector has shown one of the largest genders pay gaps in Britain. The lack of women in senior jobs is the main reason.

Pay gap data from 21 major financial institutions showed a narrowing in their average mean gender pay gap. This is just 0.4 percentage points. Banks alone had a pay gap which narrowed by one percentage point. Ann Francke, chief executive of the Chartered Management Institute said that the UK’s financial services industry has often been singled out. It really does have to get its house in order. Goldman Sachs had the widest gender pay gap in the year to April 2020. Goldman posted a gender pay gap of 51.8%. The bank told the staffs that narrowing the gap further was a critical priority. A spokesperson for banking lobby group UK Finance said, that there is clearly more still to be done.

FTSE 100 insurers Prudential, Legal & General and M&G reported a widening in their pay gaps. Prudential’s UK gender pay gap widened to 45.2%. M&G also reported a widening in its pay gap in the most recent year to 30.5%. The M&G spokesperson said that they are determined to narrow their gender pay gap and will do this by achieving better representation of women in all roles at all levels of our organization. Legal & General’s mean gender pay gap widened to 30.8%.

The insurer said that the legal & general is tackling the underlying causes of its pay gap. This is by creating a more diverse workforce and a more inclusive culture through sustained, long-term action. Admiral had a gender pay gap last year of 12.8%. The 21 firms surveyed were Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds, NatWest, Standard Chartered, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs International, JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley, UBS, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, PGMS (a Phoenix unit), abrdn, Schroder Investment Management, St James’s Place, Legal & General, Prudential, Admiral Group, Aviva and M&G.

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BOJ to lower inflation target-Japan’s finance minister

Japan’s outgoing finance minister, Taro Aso, said that he had proposed lowering the central bank’s 2% inflation target. This is when the prices took a hit from plunging oil prices. He was the finance minister for nearly nine years. The slump in oil price was among the main reasons the government could not officially declare an end to deflation. In his final news conference as finance minister, Aso said that he proposed to Governor Kuroda that, with oil prices falling this much, it would be hard to achieve 2% inflation. Hence, the target must be lowered at some point. He stated this by referring to Bank of Japan (BOJ) chief Haruhiko Kuroda.

Aso also said that the governor said he would do his best to achieve the target. This is stated by adding that policymakers must scrutinise at some point, why the BOJ’s inflation target of 2% has not been met. The remarks highlight how the government and lawmakers distanced themselves from the BOJ’s target years ago, despite central bank reassurances that achieving the target was possible by maintaining or increasing stimulus.

Aso was deeply involved in negotiations with the BOJ. After Kuroda took over as governor, he deployed a massive asset-buying program. This is for pulling Japan out of deflation. Aso supported the BOJ’s stimulus efforts. He is a member of the cabinet. And also, had raised many doubts that monetary policy alone can reflate the economy out of the doldrums. New Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is set to form a cabinet.

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