Bridging the Digital Divide

21 December 2011

The rapid evolution and growth of the Islamic banking and financing industry has predicated the need for Islamic financial institutions to offer increasingly sophisticated products and services in order to meet the current and future expectations of their customers.

Modern society has seen a seismic shift in the way we interact with traditional businesses and in turn how these businesses relate to their customers. Nowhere is this more clearly felt than in the technological arena, where banks are increasingly expected to be able to offer completely interactive and easily accessible electronic solutions through both their online and mobile portals.

This has seen us shift the way in which we interact with traditional businesses, particularly the banking sector, as our lives become increasingly mobile. The ubiquity of technology has allowed banks to offer an increasing array of benefits that previously only a bricks and mortar branch could offer. This hands the emerging Islamic banking sector a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to open up the industry and reach into new and exciting segments.

The nature of the Islamic finance business model is that it seeks to encapsulate a segment of the market previously at odds with conventional banking products and as such requires a customer-driven, technological approach. Internet and mobile banking services have made new and exciting opportunities available, enabling Islamic financial institutions to offer a plethora of information to their customers through internet-enabled and mobile devices. As Islamic financial institutions try to capture an ever greater share of the current market they are also aiming to attract future business from those customers previously underserved by the conventional industry. In offering customers comprehensive access to mobile and online banking, Islamic financial institutions have the opportunity to bring banking services to communities and individuals with previously limited access to first-rate banking facilities.

Tailor-made for mobiles

Keeping customers satisfied and happy is the key to sustainable customer retention. With mobile phones and the internet becoming ever present in our everyday lives, customers are looking for a banking facility that allows them to access their account information anywhere and at any time.

Customers as a result want access to their account information whenever they want and from wherever they want. Tailored to the requirements of local banks and their customers in the GCC, ITS’s solutions have been created to enable banks to leap ahead in customer service by providing their customers with secure, around the clock access to their account information.

Specifically tailored to the requirements of their customers, the ITS-offered ETHIX-Mobile solution has been created to enable banks to provide customers with secure, 24/7 access to their account information, while the wholly integrated banking solution enables customers to perform many critical banking functions directly from the ETHIX-Mobile browser interface.

ETHIX-Mobile is an affordable retail mobile banking solution which can be used through any mobile phone, providing customers direct access to banking services through SMS and WAP enabled handsets. From a simple account review screen to the ability to make payments, transfers and self-service functions, the ETHIX-Mobile banking solution can provide customers with an efficient online service and one that can be automatically distinguished from any of its competitors. The application succeeds in delivering a quality product with competitive functionality and, most importantly, information security.

With fierce competition in the banking world, financial institutions see mobile banking as a way to keep existing customers and attract new ones. ETHIX-Mobile can provide a bank with an advanced technological solution which not only improves customer service but also increases revenue through a reduction in transaction costs as well as allowing Islamic financial institutions the ability to target and retain their most profitable and sophisticated retail customers.

World wide solutions

Mobile solutions allow for an increased geographical reach and at a significantly lower cost. Mobile banking also allows for the expansion of customer contact with a bank’s branding and products, strengthening their relationship with those products and the bank. Relationship building is a strategic priority for many financial institutions. Internet and mobile banking technology together with an attractive array of products and financial services can provide a means for banks to develop and maintain relationships. By offering a wide range of functions and sophisticated technology, ETHIX-Mobile can assist a bank to improve customer service and build customer loyalty.

Mobile banking allows financial institutions to offer a wide selection of products and services to a range of banking customers. As the demographics of banking customers continue to change, the challenges faced by banks is to understand each customer and find the right product combination and service to suit their individual needs. ETHIX-Mobile offers both flexibility and a comprehensive range of instruments which can allow a bank to reach different customer segments and maintain profit margins.

Enabling users in the digital arena has become an imperative requirement of all banks, particularly in areas with high mobile penetration and limited banking facilities. In these areas, operators are laying a strong emphasis on providing enhanced mobile banking services that are increasingly being adopted by consumers who are looking for secure and convenient banking and bill payment options. By leveraging off their mobile and internet platforms, banks can gain customer loyalty, reduce costs and attract a customer base without the expense of opening up additional branches. Online and mobile services further allow these institutions an ever greater opportunity to differentiate between themselves and the conventional industry.

As key enablers for the Islamic banking industry, mobile banking solutions allow financial institutions the means to better respond to the growing and evolving customer demand for mobile-based capabilities using their smart phones. While mobile financial services have been adopted widely, they have yet to be utilized to their full extent in many Islamic countries and Islamic banks. Technology opens the door to a new generation of customers where banking can be done anytime and anywhere. In offering mobile and internet-driven services to existing and potential customers, Islamic banking has the potential to take a quantum leap forward in advancing its product exposure and branding.

Embracing the internet age

With the internet becoming integral to people’s lives, financial institutions are moving towards offering an increasingly wide range of services by means of virtual distribution channels. In offering a highly reliable system, ETHIX-Net is designed for retail and corporate banking customers who want to enable access to their banking services through the internet.

The challenge today for Islamic banks is to introduce new products, reduce costs, expand their geographical reach and improve their return on investment. ETHIX-Net can address these challenges by providing a simple, secure and scalable solutions, offering a wide range of functions in multiple languages (including Arabic) and multiple currencies: including balance enquiries, transaction history, account transfers and third-party payments.

Comprised of two major modules, retail and corporate, the ITS internet banking suite is completely flexible allowing for full personalization and flexibility. This is continued through to the provision of its flexible charging models that allow for a plethora of percentage, fixed rate, combination and stepped type-based transaction processes.

As a result, the cutting-edge corporate internet banking suite from ITS delivers a sophisticated multilingual and multicurrency offering that is easily integrated into all third party applications, with a proven performance record in giving any bank an edge in performing its cash management, trade finance, invoicing and collection functions. The strength of ITS’s corporate internet banking solution lies in its powerful features such as its advanced security matrix and workflow management, delivering real-time data on account balances and transactions as well as straight-through processing on payments such as SWIFT.

Supported by the corporate internet banking solution, the ITS suite allows any corporate provider complete management of their business by managing their internal workflows and redefined corporate templates.

ITS’s retail internet banking system delivers a quality product, competitive functionality and information security in a packaged, affordable internet banking solution. From a simple account review screen to sophisticated payment, transfer and self-service functionality, retail internet banking provides the most compelling online experience that distinguishes your bank from your competitors. Thus, your bank will generate more revenue and reduce transaction costs while capturing and keeping your most profitable and sophisticated retail customers.

Meeting market needs

The ITS-offered solution is a fully brandable e-banking application that provides advanced retail and corporate banking functions. It offers the ideal solution to financial institutions wishing to offer internet banking functions to their customers. The solution is based on the latest technological developments and meets the most stringent user convenience, cost effectiveness and time-to-market requirements.

The solution is a totally secure, all-encompassing internet banking application that consists of independent components for performing banking or trading functions which are distributed in a secure way through the internet. The application architecture enables banks to segment their markets (retail, small business and corporate) under a single application.

Market leader

As a recognized market leader, ITS offers unprecedented experience in providing IT infrastructure and software solutions to banks and financial institutions worldwide. This comes as part of ITS’s mission to be the leading integrated information systems provider to institutional clients in the Middle East through the superior quality of its products and services forming a complete IT solution. With a proven track record for successfully implementing financial software products within both Islamic and conventional organizations, ITS is regarded as a key Islamic solutions provider.

Established in 1981, ITS now has a portfolio of more than 150 clients across the globe and is the preferred choice for a growing number of businesses, banks and financial institutions. With a team of dedicated professionals, ITS can offer a range of customized IT services and solutions including fast track implementation and total business solutions as well as providing continuous customer support.

Over the years ITS has gained many awards and certifications for Islamic Finance Modules, including the AAOIFI certification in December 2009. Headquartered in Kuwait, ITS has a wide geographical presence with 23 offices across the MENA region waiting to serve your needs.

Become a bobsguide member to access the following

1. Unrestricted access to bobsguide
2. Send a proposal request
3. Insights delivered daily to your inbox
4. Career development