KPMG: digital transformation and data to boost UAE banking

By Matt High
KPMG has found that financial institutions that leverage technology and data will be best positioned to grow in the UAE’s financial market Adapting t...

KPMG has found that financial institutions that leverage technology and data will be best positioned to grow in the UAE’s financial market

Adapting to new technologies, effectively using digital assets and building a strong risk management strategy will be key to succeeding in the UAE’s financial services industry.

According to KPMG’s fifth annual UAE Banking Perspectives 2020 report, the financial services industry is facing unprecedented disruption. 

This is being driven by several key factors including the rise of blockchain technology, the emergence of fintechs, digital banking firms and unconventional competitors and a more stringent regulatory and compliance landscape. 

So too has the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically altered the environment in which banks, fintechs and other players now operate. 

The age of digitalisation

Specifically in the UAE, KPMG notes a trend towards consolidation in the market, with prominent mergers including First Gulf Bank and National Bank of Abu Dhabi, Dubai Islamic Bank and Noor Bank and several more. 

The report notes that “as we enter an age of tremendous interconnectivity, many banks are keen to digitalise their customer experience, their services and their products, and expand beyond the confines of their traditional bricks-and-mortar service models.”

KPMG expects further market consolidation. It also predicts an increased focus on connected banking, using technology to place customers at the heart of development and using data more effectively to drive business growth. 

The emergence of the banking ecosystem will also play a crucial role in the transformation of the sector. This will, says KPMG, revolve around an interconnected set of services where customers can fulfil a variety of needs through a single, integrated experience. 

It notes that this “may represent the cornerstone of digital banking in the future”.

Overcoming disruption

With those challenges and changes in mind, KPMG states that financial organisations that make best use of technology and data, and that are able to navigate the regulatory landscape most effectively, will be the best place to grow. 

They will also, it explains, be better positioned to overcome the disruption caused by the global coronavirus pandemic. 

Rapidly evolving customer expectations are placing considerable strain on the development trajectory of organisations. In addition, increased scrutiny from regulatory bodies is forcing banks to modernise across their entire operations more efficiently. 


In light of these challenges, KPMG recommends that banks closely examine their business continuity plans. 

The Central Bank of the UAE, for example, has been proactive in rolling out stimulus packages, and has announced its comprehensive AED 256 billion Targeted Economic SUpport Scheme, which is hoped to contain the impact of COVID-19.

Cybersecurity also will be crucial. KPMG sees a notable trend for banks and institutions to focus on security and risk management, recognising that progressive banks are integrating information security risk management processes within their risk management framework. 

Abbas Basrai, Partner and Head of Financial Services at KPMG, explained that “banks and other financial institutions are faced with tough times ahead, but technology can help mitigate negative effects for customers and business.”

For more information on all topics for FinTech, please take a look at the latest edition of FinTech magazine.

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