UAE’s Mashreq bank to cut physical branches amid digitalization

By Shilpa Annie Joseph, Desk Reporter
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UAE’s leading financial institution Mashreq Bank has stated that it will reduce the number of its branches in response to the changing client behavior and a larger push toward digital banking.

According to the reports, the emirate’s oldest bank has decided to reduce the number of physical branches to 10 by the end of August 2021, down from 34 two years ago. However, it will increase the number of electronic banking service units as clients “embrace automated and online banking offerings”, Mashreq said in a statement to the Dubai Financial Market, where its shares trade.

“Catering to the evolving needs of our customers and their transactional behavior, Mashreq continues to make appropriate changes to its branch operations,” the company stated in the filing.

“There’s a complete shift in our strategy to focus on digital channels. We still have some clients who rely on brick and mortar, but our numbers show these are diminishing by the minute. Mashreq isn’t competing with traditional banks anymore. Our real competitors are the providers of client experience…the owners of data, the owners of information,” commented Mr. Ahmed Abdelaal, Chief Executive Officer at Mashreq bank.

Founded in 1967, Mashreq is focusing more on digital banking in order to attract the tech-savvy clientele that prefers to conduct their banking transactions online. Last week, Mashreq reported a 50 percent decline in second-quarter profit as impairment allowances increased due to the coronavirus outbreak.

According to the Central Bank of the UAE (CBUAE), the UAE economy is likely to increase at a rate of 2.4 percent this year as the country rebounds from pandemic-related obstacles.

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