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Commercial Bank of Dubai: Leading Digital Customer Service IN ASSOCIATION WITH

in genuous Melbourne | Australia


Commercial Bank of Dubai: Leading Digital Customer Service


www. cb d . a e


Stefan Kimmel, COO, explains how COVID-19 created digitisation opportunities in banking and why customer-centricity is essential to CBD’s operations


lthough the COVID-19 pandemic is causing the banking sector to necessarily reassess so many of its core processes,

there is one focus that should always remain the same: good customer service. Formed in 1969, the Commercial Bank of Dubai (CBD) was built on 04

a solid foundation of determination to improve the lives of the UAE’s citizens. Originally a joint venture between Commerzbank, Chase Manhatten Bank and Commercial Bank of Kuwait, CBD became a public company in 1982 and continues to be so to this day. The bank maintains a steadfast dedication to customer-centricity skillfully combined with visionary leadership, thereby allowing it to navigate the latest technological trends and produce optimal outcomes. Joining the company in February 2020, on the eve of the global coronavirus lockdown, Stefan Kimmel, Chief Operating Officer, says that the pandemic was a “curveball” at the start of his tenure to say the least. “I hadn’t even had the chance to meet all of my staff before everything was suddenly via


www. cb d . a e


“After many years of telling clients what to do, I figured I wanted to get my hands dirty. Of course, it’s far more challenging but it’s also a lot more rewarding”


— Stefan Kimmel, Chief Operating Officer, Commercial Bank of Dubai

tory, trajectory and outstanding track

Microsoft Teams or Zoom,” he recalls.

and profitability that captured his atten-

Coming from a long-term career working

tion, as well as its promising commitment

at some of the world’s most renowned

to digital transformation. The latter, he

consulting firms, Kimmel recognised

explains, is a direct result of CEO Bernd

the opportunity of working at CBD as a

van Linder’s clear and committed long-

chance to put his consulting advice into

term strategy.

execution. “After many years of tell-

more challenging but it’s also a lot more rewarding.” It was the bank’s proud hisrecord of consistent revenue growth

Part of the new vanguard of ‘next-

ing clients what to do, I figured I wanted

gen’ COOs, those who maintain a

to get my hands dirty. Of course, it’s far

tech-focused outlook and holistic (non-siloed) team structures, Kimmel combines this with his outsider experience gained from working as a consultant. Having gained a solid understanding of what good performance means in a banking context, he is determined to achieve nothing short of the finest results for a bank in the Middle East. When considering how these outcomes will be achieved at CBD, Kimmel emphasises that technological advances will be crucial, although not, perhaps, in the way that




07 many people think. “There’s always

integrated into their cloud platforms

a lot of talk about everything that’s

is mind-boggling,” continues Kimmel.

going on in the market. However, I’d

“Regardless of whether it was AI (artifi-

say, in recent years, technology has

cial intelligence), DevOps, or any other

been far more ‘evolutionary’ than

cutting-edge technology, it would have

‘disruptive’,” that is to say: it has been

previously taken large investments

maturing and better applying emerg-

spread over several years to develop.

ing tech rather than creating new

Now, everything is an API (application

paradigms entirely. Part of the reason

programming interface) and you can

for this lies in banking’s status as a

just plug it in; you’re not stuck with a

highly regulated industry, but the other

10-year-old infrastructure, you can lit-

is a direct result of a core technology:

erally just switch one API for another.”

cloud. “If you look at the big platform

CBD is a bank wholly committed

providers – Google, Amazon, Microsoft,

to lean and agile thinking in its tech

etc – the number of capabilities they’ve

infrastructure, but Kimmel knows that www. cb d . a e

Partners in Possibility Collaboration drives business results and consumer value in commerce and financial services.

Proud to partner with Commercial Bank of Dubai


Driving Transformation for Commercial Bank of Dubai Fiserv is one of the key partners facilitating Commercial Bank of Dubai’s modernisation campaign. Here, we explore how the company became a leader.

Fiserv is dedicated to helping businesses and individuals move money and information in a secure and reliable manner. A strong believer in the power of technology to enable solutions for daily challenges and conscious that innovation can take on many forms, the company’s approach is cogently summed up in its core aspiration, “To move money and information in a way that moves the world.”

Commercial Bank of Dubai (CBD) is one client in particular that has been reaping the benefits of working with Fiserv. Partnered since 2009, CBD has benefited from using FirstVision™, a single platform, to support all their credit, debit, prepaid and merchant acquiring

Looking ahead and considering the constantly shifting financial services landscape CBD, and other clients in the region, will benefit from FirstVision facilitating fast-track deployment for new capabilities using high level parameter controls and advanced, real-time APIs. The platform will deliver operational and compliance efficiencies whilst ensuring CBD are able to provide a high level experience for all their customers.

Partners in Possibility Collaboration drives business results and consumer value in commerce and financial services.

Proud to partner with Commercial Bank of Dubai


A leading global provider of payments and financial technology with a presence in over 100 countries, Fiserv exhibits a full-spectrum client base including financial institutions, corporations and merchants. Serving millions of clients through approximately 44,000 associates, an exceptional workplace culture has netted the company consistent industry praise: Fortune has ranked Fiserv among the ‘World’s Most Admired Companies’ for seven consecutive years. Distinctly down-to-earth and customer-centric, Fiserv focuses on solving the real-world problems people face: “People aren’t thinking about financial services, but they are thinking about when their next bill payment is due, or how they are going to save to buy a house,” says Jossan Maalouf, general manager, Middle East & Africa at Fiserv. “Money is a part of our everyday lives and we’re committed to enabling people to move and manage it with ease, speed and convenience.”

processing needs whilst also utilising fraud management and prevention capabilities. This scalable, resilient and robust system ensures consistent service delivery and performance, coupled with localised support in the UAE.

“The potential for payments transformation in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region is massive. It is a market with around 350 million cards in circulation (credit, debit and prepaid) and, at this stage, the MEA digital payments market remains highly underpenetrated because it is still heavily reliant (80%) on cash payments,” states Maalouf . “The MEA region has the lowest proportion of digital transactions with a ratio of 17% compared to 74% for North America and 51% for Europe. Therefore, the growth potential is significant in this region.” working, not just in the UK but globally.”

Learn more today www. cb d . a e



this is only half the battle. While most

and development of teams them-

executives in the banking space know

selves. “We bring in fresh talent when

what ‘good’ looks like, it is, neverthe-

it’s needed, but we primarily focus

less, fully realised by few because of

on training and upskilling. Doing so

numerous real-world complications

requires us to constantly stay on top

(legacy infrastructure, budget limita-

of our game and drive that transforma-

tions, sub-optimal team organisation,

tion along with them. I was blessed

etc). Where CBD makes the difference

to come into an environment that has

is in two key areas, both linked with

that top-level ‘buy-in’,” says Kimmel.

a superior cultural outlook. The first

A mid-sized bank with dynamic team

is maintaining a clear vision starting

structures and closely aligned man-

with senior leadership and permeat-

agement capable of making changes

ing the whole organisation, while the

fast, it has ultimately been these key

second involves consistent investment

differentiators which have seen CBD

surpass its competitors during the

its IT and operations teams, CBD was

challenging circumstances of COVID-

able to make the transition to remote

19: “Most organisations, not just banks,

working without any deterioration of

had to stop investment, stop hiring, or

its service levels. In fact, reflecting on

even let go of staff. Because CBD had

the effect that the pandemic has had

that clarity of vision and focus, we did

on banking generally, Kimmel goes

the opposite.”

on to state that coronavirus may have

However, despite its strong culture,

inadvertently spurred on the next

which allowed it to weather the onset

wave of both tech and customer ser-

of COVID-19, Kimmel makes it clear

vice transformation. “The commonly

that the challenge has been no less

agreed notion and sentiment now is

difficult, “It was very hard initially; no

that COVID-19 has been one of the

bank is naturally set up for a scenario

biggest digitisation boosters we’ve

like that.” Through the dedication of

seen in a long time, because, all of


Stefan Kimmel Title: Chief Operating Officer

Industry: Banking

Location: United Arab Emirates Stefan has over 20 years of experience in digital transformation, technology management and innovation with a range of globally leading organisations, including BCG, Oliver Wyman and IBM. Prior to joining CBD, he was the Leader Digital Technology, Financial Services at PwC for the Middle East. Stefan holds a Master’s in Business Management from the University of Nuremberg as well as a Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Georgia in the US. Joined CBD in Feb. 2020.

www. cb d . a e


We are proud to be working with CBD to accelerate their payments modernization and digital To maintain its leadership position as the transformation programme region’s ‘bank of tomorrow’, CBD identified Grow your bank the world’s most in launching the need for with greater flexibility advanced cloud payments solutions new service propositions, higher straightthrough processing, API enablement, volantetech.com and real-time payments readiness as key payments modernization goals. Compliance with global and regional crossborder initiatives, and easier integration to blockchain networks, were also important criteria. At the core of this modernization

The CBD and Volante Technologies Partnership effort is Volante’s cloud-native VolPay, providing unified end-to-end processing of domestic and international payments, including foreign exchange/FX, real-time and cross-border payments. By deploying VolPay in the cloud, the bank is able to achieve all its modernization objectives, while benefiting from increased business resiliency, reduced operational and infrastructure costs, and greater innovation for its customers.

We are proud to be working with CBD to accelerate their payments modernization and digital transformation programme Grow your bank with the world’s most advanced cloud payments solutions volantetech.com

“There’s always a lot of talk about everything that’s going on in the market. However, I’d say, in recent years, technology has been far more ‘evolutionary’ than ‘disruptive’” — Stefan Kimmel, Chief Operating Officer, Commercial Bank of Dubai

capabilities have received widespread industry praise, including ‘Most Innovative Bank’, ‘Best digital bank’, and ‘Best mobile app’. According to

a sudden, our clients couldn’t come

Kimmel, “the journey started in our

into the branches anymore.” In line with

digital channels – building capabili-

this, CBD subsequently announced in

ties and making them slicker. We will

a July press release that digital adop-

continue to add more and continuously

tion among its customers had risen

improve our customer experience

significantly. Kimmel states that this

and improve it. Digital transformation

migration provided the bank with a dual

is a never ending journey.” It is by

learning opportunity: learning how to

combining a digital interface with its

optimise functionality and convenience

customer-centric ethos that CBD

for the online platform, and also finding

strives to create value, something

out how CBD’s in-branch experience

which, Kimmel admits, is often no easy

can be improved to drive engagement. Customer-centricity and digital transformation go hand-in-hand at CBD: a kind of conceptual möbius strip wherein each simultaneously develops and reinforces the other. With developments already well underway prior to the start of Kimmel’s tenure, CBD’s digital banking www.c o mpa ny we www. bsitcb e. dcom .ae




Year founded

AED1.412bn Revenue H1, 2020


AED 530m Net Profit H1, 2020

1,300+ Number of employees

“The commonly agreed notion and sentiment now is that COVID-19 has been one of the biggest digitisation boosters we’ve seen in a long time” — Stefan Kimmel, Chief Operating Officer, Commercial Bank of Dubai


www. cb d . a e


task. “Every organisation these days gives that as their vision statement, but it’s difficult to drive that message through.” To accomplish this goal, the bank maintains performance management KPIs for every employee backed by operating procedures to ensure each customer interaction is quality controlled to a high standard. “After any changes, we ask our customers for real-time feedback,” he continues. “If they don’t like it, we keep improving it. CBD is constantly investing 16

“CBD is creating leadership in digital customer-centricity and digital customer services. For me, that is the mantra we are pursuing” — Stefan Kimmel, Chief Operating Officer, Commercial Bank of Dubai

in the journey and driving customer

that it will increasingly do less and less


in-house, as that’s no longer sustain-

Pivotal to the development of CBD’s

able or competitive,” explains Kimmel.

digital transformation has been the

As such, he provided examples of two

establishment of strong partner

collaborators: Ingenuous and Fiserv.

ecosystems with trustworthy and

A decision-support company based

influential companies. “The direction

in Melbourne, Australia, Ingenuous

banking is heading towards means

distinguishes itself through extensive global experience in its field and specially-tailored strategies for its clients. “Ingenuous is working with us in the compliance space. As you know, compliance is an ever-growing field of increasing complexity and demand. The company has been working with us on KYC (know your customer) and AML (anti-money laundering) to


C B D : D R I VI N G CU ST O M ER S A T I SFACT I O N When it comes to good customercentric operations, Kimmel believes that speed, quality of response, transparency and cost are important metrics for measuring success. He provides the following example of CBDs development protocol during its recent digital onboarding cycle:

“If it takes a customer 20 screens to open a digital account, that equates to about six minutes and will likely incur higher drop-off rates. CBD has managed to reduce the number of screens for the process on our digital app to five, meaning that it can be done in less than a minute. That’s a much better customer journey.” www. cb d . a e

“CBD will continue to develop its alreadystrong channels like the retail space, but we have a pipeline of new and exciting capabilities lined up” — Stefan Kimmel, Chief Operating Officer, Commercial Bank of Dubai

in genuous

constantly improve and enhance our compliance capabilities.” Fiserv is a global leader in fintech and innovative payments experiences to suit the modern world. “CBD is working with Fiserv in the omnichannel space; it is an enabler that allows us to switch between ATMs and kiosks, which is an important aspect of driving a uniform experience across the different channels CBD operates in.” Reflecting on what CBD has accomplished in 2020 despite the disruption,


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“Delivering fraud prevention and compliance solutions with innovative and differentiating features.” One Platform Real-time

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19 Kimmel states that he is proud. However,

starting with SMBs (small-medium

he quickly adds a caveat that, at least

businesses) and then scaling up to

in the new, tech-driven world of bank-

more complex entities, the bank will

ing, everything is always in a state of

be continuing its winning combination

‘becoming’. “In the technology space,

of tech-enabled customer-centric oper-

nothing’s ever finished because

ations as it moves into 2021. “CBD is

there’s always something new on the

creating leadership in digital customer-

rise. CBD will continue to develop

centricity and digital customer services,”

its already-strong channels like the

Kimmel emphasises. “For me, that is

retail space, but we have a pipeline

the mantra we are pursuing.”

of new and exciting capabilities lined up, including automation and AI-based controls and the constant renewal of our IT architecture.” Currently on the verge of facilitating full digital onboarding in the corporate space, www. cb d . a e



Profile for Business Chief Europe

Commercial Bank of Dubai October 2020  

Commercial Bank of Dubai October 2020  

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