The dawn of a digitised banking era with Emirates NBD

As part of our Global Learning and Global Immersion Project, we interacted with Mr Suvo Sarkar – SEVP and Ground Head, Retail Banking and Wealth Management, Emirates NBD. Mr Sarkar took us through the amazing journey of how under his guidance, Emirates NBD became the first bank in the UAE to turn digital and paperless.

“Change has never happened this fast before, and it will never be this slow again.”  – This quote is what led to the beginning of Emirates NBD’s digital journey. Here’s what Mr Sarkar had to say of Emirates NBD’s journey.


Mr Sarkar gave us a glimpse into how acquiring customers has become easy over the years with the help of technology. The reach of technology has helped many new companies achieve in just one day, what took the old giants years to achieve. Some examples include how it took the telephone industry 75 years to acquire 50 million users while it took the internet just 4 years to acquire the same number of customers. AOL, an American mobile network company, acquired 50 million users in 4 years while Reliance Jio achieved the feat in just 83 days. When talking about payment transactions, JP Morgan – one of the world’s most elite banks – does 94 million transactions every year; on the other hand, AliPay in China performed 832 million transactions in just one day on the occasion of Chinese New Year. In 2002, it took anywhere between two days to two months to approve a home loan; today, Tic:Toc approves loans in 22 minutes.

There are many forces such as Fintech and Blockchain that are disrupting the banking sector and most importantly, growing customer expectations. Competition is emerging from every conceivable direction. Over 12,000 fintech companies across the world were holding more than 110 billion-dollar funds in 2018. Even technology companies such as Google and Apple, with no prior history in the sector, are entering financial services. Mr Sarkar spoke of the six words that are changing the world – Googlification, Facebookisation, Amazonification, iPhonification, Uberisation, Netflixisation and Alexaization. Apart from Fintech companies, AI and Robotics are also disrupting the banking sector.


In response to these disrupting technologies, Emirates NBD came up with a two-paced innovation and execution engine which talks about “EXPLOIT” – continue to build on core strength; “EXPLORE” – evaluate, prioritise & build new opportunities; and “EVOLVE” – transform people, processes, infrastructure. Their digital journey started in 2013. Since then, Emirates NBD has launched new generation mobile banking, Siebel CRM service platform and direct remittance services, and introduced features like “shake and save” and “fitness” on their app. Their customer experience went through a transformation with improved customer due diligence, account servicing and paperless banking. All these factors came together and became Emirates NBD’s mobile banking app, Liv.  


BY 2030, almost 75% of the world population will become digital natives. They will seek speed, better UX/UI, social community, anytime-anywhere banking, personalised offers and much more than what banking offers now. Principles of the Liv app include,

  • Building a banking proposition that millennials can relate to
  • Building loyalty in the era of digital apps and low switching costs
  • Building an operating model with no physical presence or sales force
  • Redefining the brand to win not just trust, but love

To achieve this feat, the team behind Liv is mainly made of millennials who are tech savvy, fresh thinkers, paranoid about customer experience and are from diverse nationalities. Features of the app include:

  • Instant sign up; zero paperwork
  • Biometric validation
  • Robust KYC
  • Intuitive user experience
  • Simpler product
  • Easy to understand language


In the coming times, it is not only going to be important to adapt but also to reinvent. Mr Sarkar gave us the most critical takeaway, ie, the 4 Cs of success in this rapidly changing digital world – Critical thinking, Collaboration, Communication and Creativity. This paradigm shift can be explained using the 4 Ps – Passion, Perseverance, Positivity and Paranoia. Talking about the “banker of the future”, he explained the qualities these future bankers must have, which included being agile and adaptable, multicultural, being connected and relation-driven and customer focused with a widened perspective.

About the Author: Nhan Thu Nguyen

Nhan Thu Nguyen

Nhan Thu Nguyen is a Master of Global Business (MGB) student, specializing in Global Finance, at SP Jain School of Global Management. Prior to joining SP Jain, she had one year of work experience in the Planning and Performance Management department of Anheuser Busch InBev Trading Co Ltd, Vietnam and a 3-month internship at PwC, Vietnam. She is currently participating as a collaborator in the Global Learning and Student Life Committee at SP Jain.

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