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In the world of never-ending competition and number of banks that are ready to offer similar products to their customers, you need to differentiate. The success might just lay in the relationship with your customers!

What do you see as the biggest challenge in product development in banking nowadays?

Change in business models, increased competition and rising expectations are some of the challenges most sectors are currently facing in terms of product development. It is no secret that the banking sector specifically is undergoing a paradigm shift. With the emergence of FinTechs and disruptive technologies, traditional financial institutions are forced to rethink the way they do business; this also includes the products and services they offer.

In this highly competitive landscape, insight, agility, rich client relationship and continuous innovation are key for sustainable success and it goes without saying that all banks are now looking to enhance relationships with existing customers and aim of being top-of-mind with new/potential customers.

How can banks work with FinTech companies to improve their existing service?

Partnership between financial institutions and FinTech companies is a mutually beneficial relationship. For established financial institutions, such partnerships allow the organisation to form a solid structure of improvements towards innovation, continuous engagement with their customer through advanced digital solutions and improved customer experience. While for FinTech companies, working with a financial institution allows them access to established customer segments and gain experience from the banks which leads them to sustainable growth in a competitive ecosystem.

What technology do you consider to have the biggest impact on the banking industry in the near future?

There is no doubt that new technologies will impact the banking sector and transform our understanding of banking, this is both an opportunity and a challenge for financial institutions. However, in terms of which one will have the biggest impact, I believe that artificial intelligence and quad computing are definitely a few of the main technologies that will alter the banking business models. The rapid growth of new technologies has created the perfect roadmap for expanding the use of artificial intelligence in financial services.

How do you see the future of product development in banking in the MENA region?

The role of product developers provides the institution insight on the market, and is essential for commercialising and monitoring new products and services. In this competitive environment, product development roles will only grow to become more significant as it becomes more and more fundamental in positioning a financial institution as a trusted advisor and leading the way in their respective markets.

Ahmed Al Maskati is the Head of Product Development – Retail Banking for the National Bank of Bahrain. Ahmed is key to the management and formation of products and services that are essential to the overall digital and customer-centric transformational strategy.

Prior to that, Ahmed was the Assistant Vice President for Strategy, Project Management and Product Development for Gulf International Bank – Saudi Arabia, responsible for the development and roll out of the Bank’s transformational strategy including the launch of the Middle East’s first greenfield neo-bank Meem followed by the development and commercialisation of the Bank’s Global Transaction Banking (GTB) business line for Corporates & Institutions.

Ahmed has been engaged with financial services since 2007 working on an array of assignments across wholesale, retail and treasury verticals.

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