While the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic posed a myriad of challenges to economies worldwide, it has also opened an opportunity for Commercial Bank to ramp up its digital capabilities to meet the needs of its clients, a top official has said.
Speaking at the "Euromoney LiveStream" event held recently, Commercial Bank Group CEO Joseph Abraham said: “As a leading Qatari bank we believe the future is digital and we have experienced a fundamental change in customer behaviour, with many more clients using digital banking channels for the first time.”
“Covid-19 has, therefore, presented a window of opportunity for us to accelerate our client experience of digital banking and our digital agenda, both in terms of how we interact with our customers at the front-end but also embedding digital throughout our organisation,” he continued.
Aside from Abraham, the co-hosted Euromoney/Commercial Bank webcast titled "Qatar: Navigating the New Normal", also featured United Development Company president, CEO and member of the board, Ibrahim Jassim al-Othman, and Commercial Bank executive general manager, Wholesale Banking, Raju Buddhiraju.
The participants highlighted how Qatar’s experience of the 2008 financial crisis and the 2017 blockade had prepared it for the sudden shock of the pandemic and lockdown. The interviewees each stressed, however, that Qatar was on the road to recovery and, though demand patterns will change, the strategic direction of the nation was unchanged.
Streamed live to a global audience of over 500 attendees, the webcast took questions on subjects ranging from the prospects for Qatar’s real estate sector, through the impact of Covid-19 on the 2022 FIFA World Cup and the critical role digital technology plays in the "new normal". It also featured exclusive real-time footage of both The Pearl-Qatar and Gewan Island developments – another first for a Euromoney webcast.
During the event, al-Othman said: “We were equipped with liquidity from financial institutions to get us through the first three months of the pandemic. We did not stop our construction business throughout the lockdown.”
Each of the three leaders pointed towards rapid and effective action by the Qatari government, in particular the Qatar Central Bank (QCB) and the Ministry of Finance, as being a vital competent of the country’s response.
They also highlighted how cooperation between the corporate and the financial sector and clear communication have been essential to managing the challenge of the pandemic.
Buddhiraju said, “While there are challenges in the short term arising out of Covid-19, we must realise that five years from now, Qatar is very well-placed with many investments, including but not limited to NFE projects increasing the gas production capacity by 65%, and the Hamad International Airport capacity of 60mn passengers. This presents a tremendous opportunity in Qatar, and companies that invest in technology will develop a distinct competitive advantage.”
Whilst balanced in their view on the near future, the panel agreed that Qatar’s medium and long-term prospects remain bright.
The webcast drew a record audience of international business, analysts, and financial professionals during the event.
“We were overwhelmed with the level of interest and interaction – more than anything we’ve seen since launching our digital stream in March,” said Richard Banks, editor of Euromoney LiveStream.
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