Q&A With our CEO, Hassan Amin Jarrar

25 January 2021

1. What is one take away from this year?

The importance of optimism.

This year has tested all of us, as individuals, as families, as communities and as industries around the world. Seeking out opportunity from crisis is crucial, it goes beyond survival it’s about kick starting recovery and accelerating growth. If 2020 is the year of reflection, the takeaway is to look within our own organisations and ask each and every day: How engaged are our people during these times, how is morale? How well-equipped are we in grooming our in-house talent in order to pivot for long term growth?

This year has shifted the way we think, no doubt, but as we have seen time and time again, its drives new behaviours and it drives innovation, and it’s a far more reliable path to gaining the right knowledge because it has been tested.

2. What has given you hope?

There is strength in unity. I am incredibly proud of my people, never more so than during these challenging times. I was inspired by their level of commitment, the sheer resilience they demonstrated, by how their warmth and kindness remained, greeting customers with smiling eyes (even behind a mask), all the while supporting their colleagues, going over and above to ensure business continuity and to live the promise we made to customers – simplifying their money matters. This meant ensuring that our digital and self-service platforms continued to enable our customers to conduct their personal and business transactions.

I am proud to say that we are standing stronger by our customers today than we have ever done, sustaining their banking needs through the help of our technology. But it’s the spirit, empathy and warm of our people that was most needed.

3. What are you most proud of this year?

CEOI could talk to you about all the firsts we achieved. We were the first bank in the Kingdom to usher in electronic Know Your Customer (e-KYC) technology, we installed new state-of the art self-service kiosks across all of our branches and Financial Malls available for use 24/7, we launched our innovative Cash Against Card service through the BisB Digital app, and launched Tejoori Instant Finance allowing our customers to open an account in 5 minutes or less. We even launched end-to-end account opening for our corporate customers, which allows new and existing customers to open a corporate account using face ID via BisB Corporate Digital in a record time of 3 minutes or less.

But what I’m most proud of is our collaborative efforts.

Our self-service kiosks were developed from start to finish by our employees as a result of their collaborative efforts and creativity, all within the walls of our BisB Innovation Lab. None of these innovations we launched would have been possible without the Bank’s spirit of collaboration. Even on an external front, we collaborated with BENEFIT to launch Tap & Go and our series of Contactless cards, and collaborated with Tarabut Gateway to provide our open banking service the first of its kind in the market, and collaborated with Bahrain Polytechnic for our community-led efforts under ‘Jood’.

4. What piece of advice would you give to other companies?

Invest in technology, if you haven’t already. Technology has meant the difference between surviving and thriving during this crisis, and even on the other side of this crisis this remains true.

Even when it comes to technologies that are used as short-term communication tools, they ought to be adapted to create a digitally equipped workforce that will be critical for our long-term gain.

The rise of AI and robotics will undoubtedly help make work tasks easier and the customer journey more efficient, and this trend will not be going away anytime soon.

5. Any last words of advice?

Seek balance. Even as you embrace new technologies, its about creating a balance between the human and technological elements of our business, which is exactly what we did with our Riffa Innovation Hub, our brand-new concept, which will be launched in the near future.

Because we wanted to transform the traditional customer experience and bring it into the modern age of innovation, our Riffa Innovation Hub will offer the best of both worlds in a single space, with one floor dedicated to traditional customer service complete with customer service agents offering their usual services as well as a floor that is fully digital for customers that prefer to complete their banking transactions themselves.

It will be a place beyond banking, because we’ll be opening up a coffee shop in the same space so you can grab a cup of coffee with a friend.