Pakistan's best digital bank 2020: UBL
United Bank Limited (UBL) had a remarkable performance in 2019 thanks to the digital strategy it put in place about 18 months ago.
For starters, it was the fastest growing digital bank in Pakistan. The number of digital customers crossed one million in January this year, up from about 300,000 a year earlier. Its digital portfolio grew by three times, thanks to UBL offering its clients a digital end-to-end on-boarding platform through which customers can use the bank’s app.
These efforts have paid off handsomely. About 53% of UBL’s total new customers across the bank are now brought on board digitally, versus just 5% in 2018. About 15% of bank transactions happen online.
Sharjeel Shahid, UBL’s head of digital banking, points out that the firm’s efforts with digitalizing its business are having a big impact on costs. About 15% of banking traffic has moved out of branches to digital channels; as a result, UBL’s cost-to-income ratio per customer has decreased.
The firm is considered one of the most progressive banks in the country. There is good reason for this. UBL has a dedicated digital design lab to help boost its digital transformation and customer experience team to understand customer needs and behaviour. UBL liaised with IBM and other financial technology firms and companies focused on user experience to bring in best practice.
Such a transformation is not easy in Pakistan, given that less than 15% of adults have a formal bank account. But UBL, led by chief executive Sima Kamil, markets its digital banking offers through TV and radio to raise awareness of how simple banking can be through online channels.