Interview

Developing a digitally-native banking experience for millennials – Interview with Liv. Digital Bank

Friday 19 April 2019 09:38 CET | Interview

Jayash Patel, head of Liv., talks about how the digital bank operated by Emirates NBD can answer the growing banking needs of today\s young generation

 How did Emirates NBD identify the need for launching this banking product? What can you tell us about the size of the target market the digital bank addresses?

With the democratisation of technology, rise of apps, and millennials increasingly spending more time on their phones, we needed to develop a new digitally-native banking experience for the next generation of customers. Liv. is built with new features and capabilities for a digital lifestyle, with a focus on completely reimagining key journeys rather than digitising existing products and services – giving it a key advantage over other mobile banking propositions.

Given that over 2.5 millennials reside in the UAE – a country with some of the highest internet and smartphone penetration rates in the world, all this inspired the launch of Liv. It’s the UAE’s first digital-only lifestyle-oriented bank, designed to cater to a new generation of customers who prefer to do all their banking through mobile channels.

How is Liv. different from other mobile banking propositions?

Liv. is a digital-only lifestyle bank built by millennials for millennials, centered on one main premise: to help our customers adopt a financially responsible way of life by sharing with them information and insights about their finances and spending habits.

The idea while creating Liv. was not to replicate traditional savings and borrowing products in a digital space. Rather we focused on creating new features and capabilities that support our customers’ digital lives. For example, we know that majority of our customers go out often and we’re all familiar with the hassle of splitting bills when dining out with friends. Liv. tackles this with an instant bill split option in the app, enabling you to request money through notifications via WhatsApp or any social media platform to your friends, as well as keep track of repayments. Liv. offers a host of such products and features for its youthful customer base, whether it’s insurance for your smartphone, instant fund transfers via social media channels, or regular opportunities to win prizes through gamified promotional campaigns.

What features have proven to be the most appreciated by the users? Do you segment millennials in different subsegments (eg students, first job, young family etc.) and how do you cater for these specific needs?

Liv. has led the way in introducing millennial-friendly products, services and features, which have proven to be immensely popular with our target customers. For instance, last year we launched the Goal Account, which allows customers to use automated rules to easily save money towards their personalised goals, be it a new phone, a car or a holiday – all while earning an attractive 2% return on their balances. You realise the power of this product when you see that of those who open a Goal Account, the majority create their second Goal Account within the next three months.

Their saving habits also reveal some very exciting insights; a third of our customers are saving for a rainy day and almost 40% of the goal accounts are created by customers between the age of 18-23, reflecting a growing savings culture among youth in the country. Who’d think that more men would be saving for marriages than women?

Our customers use the app to keep a track of their expenses by different categories and merchants and whether they do anything about those spending patterns or not, we believe that awareness is a first big step towards financial responsibility. Our customers love the ability to transfer funds locally using social media without exchanging any banking details. We also recently partnered with leading insurer RSA to launch the country’s first digital insurance for mobile phones. Customers can now insure their mobiles – something central to their lives – against damage or theft at the click of a button, as well as make claims when needed in a fully digital process.

What can you tell us about the onboarding process while using Liv. – how does it work and how fast is it? How does it differ or compare with other digital banks?

Opening a Liv. bank account is as quick as eating a sandwich, literally. There are no branches, no feet on the street, and no paperwork to deal with. To open an account, all a customer needs is a smartphone, a valid UAE mobile number, and a valid Emirates ID. Liv. was one of the first to introduce mobile-based account opening aided by biometrics. Our app incorporates image reading technologies to enable new customers to scan their identity documents and open an account instantly.

For us, onboarding is a critical starting point of our relationship with our customers and we take this opportunity to learn more about each customer, his/her likes and preferences, making it a journey about each individual rather than about their money. This takes Liv. beyond the role of a bank and makes it more akin to a financial buddy helping customers achieve more of their life goals and aspirations.

Two years after the launch of Liv. what is the current state of play in digital banking in the region? How has the market evolved and what trends do you envision emerging in the future?

We are moving from an era of one-to-many towards one-on-one. Today’s customers expect personalised experiences and quick responses to stay in a long term relationship with a service provider. To meet these changing customer dynamics, companies need to use intelligent insights and data in real time to stay relevant and delight their customers.

Also, as industries open up we need to tap into the local as well as global eco-system of partnerships across various services within fintech, technology, and lifestyle that are out there to add value to customers. In line with this approach, we have partnered with home-grown brands and start-ups; and we have now grown our partner network to include a number of UAE’s most exciting companies across various categories.

Finally, companies with long term digital vision need to continue investing heavily in security and privacy, constantly seeking new technologies to enhance overall customer experience.

About Jayash Patel

Jayash Patel is currently the Head of ifestyle-focused digital bank Liv. He was previously Head of Retail Strategy for three years at Emirates NBD. He has had strong regional experience working for DIFC Investments and Ooredoo in Qatar. Prior to that, Jayash was a management consultant in the US and spent four years advising on innovation and consumer retail across industries with multinational companies such as IBM and Deloitte. Born in Nairobi, Kenya, Patel holds a bachelor’s in civil engineering from Southern Illinois University and a master’s in mechanical engineering from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Jayash also has an MBA from Dartmouth College, Tuck School of Business.

About Liv.

Liv. is the UAE’s first digital-only bank with a special focus on millennial customers, operated and managed by Emirates NBD Group. Established in line with UAE Vision 2021’s strategic objectives of creating a smart innovation-driven economy, Liv. offers a first-of-its-kind banking-meets-lifestyle experience, on a smartphone. Its unique features include instant account opening with #nopaperwork and real time access to insightful financial data and transaction history to empower customers to better manage their finances. Liv.’s proposition is supported by a group of partner brands, enabling it to offer customers a range of personalised lifestyle promotions and offers.

About Emirates NBD

Emirates NBD is a leading banking Group in the region. As at 31st December 2018, total assets were AED 500.3 Billion, (equivalent to approx. USD 136 Billion). The Group has a significant retail banking franchise in the UAE and is a key participant in the global digital banking industry, with over 90 per cent of all financial transactions and requests conducted outside of its branches. The bank was declared the Most Innovative Financial Services Organization of the Year at the 2017 BAI Global Innovation Awards. The bank currently has 230 branches and 1069 ATMs and SDMs in the UAE and overseas and a large social media following, being the only bank in the Middle East ranked among the top 20 in the ‘Power 100 Social Media Rankings’, compiled by The Financial Brand. It is a major player in the UAE corporate and retail banking arena and has strong Islamic Banking, Global Markets & Treasury, Investment Banking, Private Banking, Asset Management and Brokerage operations.


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Keywords: Jayash Patel, Liv, Emirates NBD, United Arab Emirates, EMEA, digital banking, banking, digital bank. payments, mobile transactions, digital account, UAE, millennials, Goal Account
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