GCC bank customers seek better digital experience

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Digital banking concepts are only just emerging in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Retail banking customers today have more choices than ever on how, where and when to bank — and they are turning to a digital experience for convenience.


  • Three out of four GCC customers would be ready to switch bank for a better digital experience.
  • Only 14% of customers banking interactions are made on smartphones.
  • 98% of surveyed banking customers have modern smartphones.
  • Up to 64% of GCC customers would feel comfortable switching to a digital-first bank, and this also promises to dramatically transform the role of branches.

EY research suggests that without introducing digital initiatives, up to 50% of retail banks’ net profit could be at stake.

EY – Smartphone app users

“A large number of transactions are still made on home computers or ATMs, or through traditional channels involving human interaction, such as branches or call centers. This is very surprising given the extremely high number of banking customers that use smartphones.”

Customers are not loyal to GCC banks

The survey highlighted that 78% of GCC customers would be ready to switch banks for a better digital experience. Up to 64% would feel comfortable switching to a digital-first bank, with less reliance on branch network.

“The disconnect between customer expectations and what banks in the GCC can deliver is more distinct than ever. Addressing customer needs in an increasingly digital world means disrupting and rewiring existing business models for a fresh customer experience.”

Customers expect banks to provide more convenience, less paper, more speed, pinpoint accuracy and a friendly service environment. The overwhelming majority of customers asked for an improved banking experience.

EY – Switch Banks

“A clear consensus emerged on the GCC customer priorities: anytime-anywhere, paperless interaction, fast, accurate and friendly. This is a huge opportunity to engage customers in a bigger and better way.”

Putting customers first

Trust, convenience and personalization form the foundation of customers establishing a digital relationship with their bank – and technology is the enabler. 71% of GCC customers would increase their usage of payment services if their banking relationship was made convenient simple and accessible.

Engaged customers are more willing to invest with their bank by paying a little more, or adding more accounts and services.

“Mobile-first is the future of retail banking in the GCC, but it is not enough for banks to just introduce new digital channels. They must reinvent their customer processes to offer technology-enabled, simple, end-to-end banking experiences.”