Some 89 percent of people in Qatar would move to a different bank if it offered better online and smartphone banking options, a survey by professional services firm Ernst & Young (EY) has found.
EY’s 2015 GCC Digital Banking Report, which compiled the views of more than 2,000 customers across Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait, suggests that there is a huge gap between the region’s overwhelmingly tech-savvy population and the availability of mobile and online banking options.
The discrepancy is especially apparent in Qatar, which despite its small population of 2.4 million is home to 18 registered banks.
Only 19 percent of banking transactions in Qatar are currently carried out online, the survey said, despite the fact that 96 percent of households in Qatar have internet access, and smartphone usage is now the norm in the country.
Some of the most important features that Qatar customers are looking for include easy electronic payments (97 percent); simplified and local loyalty programs (93 percent); financing planning, monitoring and spending assistance (87 percent) and augmented reality -branch and ATM finder (88 percent), the report states.
It added that 83 percent of Qatar residents (compared to 64 percent in the Gulf) surveyed would consider switching to a bank that was “digital first” – meaning a bank that would primarily offer online services, with a limited branch network – if the customer service provided was good.
The report argued that if banks were prepared to invest in more digital services, the move would pay dividends, as 69 percent of Qatar customers said they’d increase their use of credit cards.
Ashar Nazim, partner at EY’s Global Islamic Banking Center, said in a statement:
“A clear consensus emerged on the GCC customer priorities of: anytime, anywhere, paperless interaction, fast, accurate and friendly. This is a huge opportunity to engage customers in a bigger and better way. The banks that start listening closer to their customers’ needs will have a competitive advantage over others.”
The report concluded that if banks in the region don’t invest in better services, up to 50 percent of their net profit could be at stake.
Online demand increasing
Demand in the region for more digital banking services appears to have increased in the past two years, as more customers opt to use their desktops and smartphones instead of waiting in long lines at inconvenient hours.
While EY’s report found that 78 percent of GCC customers would be ready to switch banks for better digital services, a similar report by technology company Sungard in 2013 found only around 50 percent wanted more mobile and online services.
Sungard’s report also found that less than half of customers surveyed in Qatar feel that their banks understood their needs.
This point of view was endorsed by brand consultant Anthony Ryman, who in an op-ed in business magazine The Edge called on banks in Qatar to re-think their strategies:
“Banks must become more relevant, in other words, valuable and stand for a higher purpose that is more about ‘us’ and less about ‘them’…
Create happy experiences for customers. Now there is a thought.”
Would you want your bank to offer more online services? Thoughts?