A Bank With A Clean Slate 

Zand aims to streamline banking operations with minimal paperwork and support clients in their day-to-day lives to achieve their lifetime financial goals

Martechvibe spoke to Olivier Crespin, Co-founder & CEO of Zand, about how digital banking is changing the landscape in UAE, and the potential impact on retail via digital transactions.

With the UAE set to drive FinTech innovation through progressive regulation, how has the banking scene changed in the region?

Olivier Crespin: With the UAE’s ambitious digital agenda and innovative regulatory approach, the country’s banking industry is rapidly progressing towards a digital world.

The Central Bank of the UAE is already paving the way for new native digital banks by establishing a dedicated FinTech office.

The newly developed digital banks are focusing on streamlining operations to conduct high-volume digital transactions to cater to the rising demand for digitisation. In addition, banks are also moulding their business strategies to act as a platform to connect various forms of digital transactions.

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Due to the pandemic, digital acceleration is accelerating, people are showcasing a more digital readiness mindset, and digital banking is becoming the only banking solution to the challenges of today’s digital world.

At Zand, we aim to contribute to the UAE’s ambitious digital agenda and integrate with the digital players and the entire UAE ecosystem.

By building a brand-new bank with a clean slate, we’re free from any legacy in technology, mindset, process, or policy. That allowed us to build a vital data infrastructure for successful AI-enabled personalisation. That’s one of the challenges existing banks are facing as they partially migrate to the cloud or develop strategies for a multi-cloud data infrastructure environment.

What will be the critical difference between traditional banking experiences and the new ones for customers?

Crespin: We aim to streamline banking operations with minimal paperwork and support our clients in their day-to-day lives to achieve their lifetime financial goals. Hence, we will keep relatable, building products that generate real value for our customers.

As a digital-only bank, we have the advantage of focusing on the customer experience and satisfaction first and meeting the needs of our customers. So, we can provide our customers with ease, simplicity, recognition, and accessibility to the best products because we don’t have a high cost, branches, or heavy infrastructure.

Not having physical branches also allows us to have lower costs than our competitors and give our clients better rates on deposits.

We’re in a position to disrupt the banking industry. Our platform allows us to save time and address our customers’ need for being recognised, getting access to the best products, and having peace of mind.

However, we still expect the DNA of banking to remain intact, for both traditional and digital banks, in terms of efficient risk management while handling clients, transactions, and lending operations.

How have you seen customer behaviour change since the pandemic, and which new areas of engagement or personalisation are you focusing on?

Crespin: What the COVID-19 crisis did was increasingly open people’s eyes to the digital solutions that were vital to their need for simplicity, access, ease, and transparency.

Today, customers want intuitive financial platforms with customised services to meet their individual financial needs. They also demand transparency from their banks and are looking for who can give them the most control over their economic lives.

That’s why we designed Zand to constantly innovate new ways to adapt our products according to the rising expectations.

As a digital bank, we no longer evaluate our performance based on the balance sheet only. Instead, it’s about how we’re employing technology and data analytics to build a genuine relationship with our customers by getting to know them, understanding their needs, and delivering them the tools that simplify and enhance their financial lives.

How are you planning to use technology to enhance the digital experience for retail and corporate banking clients?

Crespin: We prioritise defining what is truly important to the customer and analysing data to gain meaningful insights for practical change at any interaction, journey and relationship levels. With that in mind, we designed Zand with a Customer Experience Measurement Framework that enables us to drive continuous improvement.

We’re starting with entirely digital products. From cards, current accounts, remittances, portfolio finance management, and lending for retail clients to supply chain finance and bilateral loans for corporates.

However, partnering with FinTechs for most of our offerings enable us to keep adding products as and when they are fully digitalised, with a much faster time to market.

In addition to scalability, time to market and product differentiation, we’re always available via digital channels and our Relationship Centre to ensure that we’re always adding a strong human touch to the technology.

How can banks build their Martech stack to be more customer-centric?

Crespin: Our inspiration is in our name. ‘Zand’ is derived from the word ‘Sand’ to reflect our roots, our approach, and how the customer’s needs are ingrained in everything we do.

Every particle of sand is unique and beautiful. That’s how we see our customers, employees, and partners. Yet, when we put the particles together, we create an ever-evolving ecosystem. That’s why our logo’s orb is incomplete, highlighting our ongoing evolution.

Sand is also silicon and, therefore, digital as we aim to create a digitally sound community with a greater focus on sustainability and to give back to the community.

We built Zand with an organisational culture that holds customer experience and satisfaction first. So, we focused on data and data analytics as they are the critical success factor for successful AI-enabled personalisation.

We also mapped and designed our customer journeys to proactively or ideally predictively engage with our customers and provide support at the moment that matters most to them. To that effect, we ensure every customer journey, interaction count, and all insights are captured, analysed, and acted upon.

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