Bahrain’s Bank ABC launches digital, mobile-only retail bank ‘ila’

Bahrain-based Bank ABC (Arab Banking Corporation) entered the digital space with it’s new mobile-only ‘ila Bank’. This is latest in series of the bank’s modernisation programme that aims to position Bahrain as a fintech hub in the MENA region.

ila’s initial offering:

  • Completely digital onboarding within minutes with just two forms of ID and a selfie.
  • Users are issued a Virtual debit card as soon as they onboard for immediate use for online transactions.
  • Flexible funding options including in-app integration with the country’s leading payment channel.
  • Multiple foreign currency accounts that can be linked to a single card. Users can transfer funds between these accounts without the worry of excessive fees.
  • A current account that encourages people to save more by rewarding them with a higher interest rate on higher balance, which will be calculated daily and paid monthly.
  • In-app full card control features, including set/reset pin, freeze/unfreeze a misplaced card, block and instantly reorder in the case of lost or stolen cards
  • Digital DNATM Customer Assistant Fatema, who will be available across social media to keep people and community informed about ila and will be able to answer customer questions through ila’s website 24/7.

Read: Google, Walmart help drive India payments past 1 Billion transactions

ila has created quality jobs and internships for young Bahraini professionals, said the bank in an official statement. Over “80% of ila employees are Bahraini and 84% are under 40 years old. Furthermore, the mobile-banking app is positioned to promote financial inclusion in the MENA region, something that Bank ABC is extremely passionate about, with the lowest required income threshold to open an account in Bahrain,” it added.

The ila Bank app is available for download on Google Play and Apple App store. Prospective customers will be able to join the waitlist and be the first to gain early access and experience the newest bank on the island.

In September, the Bank ABC introduced Fatema, MENA’s first emotionally intelligent digital employee and world’s first AI avatar developed using Digital DNATM. She is now ila’s first digital customer service executive.

The Bank has also made significant strides in digitising its wholesale operations to drive operational efficiencies and improve client service.

“At Bank ABC, we see change as an opportunity – to become more relevant to our customers and to evolve and to grow with them,” says Dr. Khaled Kawan, Group CEO of Bank ABC. “This is an exciting time not just for us, but also for the country. Digital transformation presents a huge opportunity to drive lasting positive change throughout the Kingdom, something that Bank ABC is proud to be leading.”

“We recognise that the customers of today are not the same as the customers of tomorrow,” added Bank ABC Deputy Group CEO Mr. Sael Al Waary, who is spearheading this strategic initiative.

Read: MENA economies on top in World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business 2020 report

“And so, it became our obsession and challenge to create a bank that mirrors their fast, connected and always on the go lifestyles. We merged cutting edge technology and human understanding to create a bank that is aligned with modern life… 

ila is designed to listen to our customers, study their lifestyles and priorities, and offer them an intuitive banking support that is completely attuned with their financial needs, something that is also deftly conveyed by our brand promise, ‘Banking that reflects you’,” said Mr. Al Waary.

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