A Winning Formula

Ramana Kumar, SVP - Head of Payments at First Abu Dhabi Bank talks to MEA Finance about the success of FAB’s ‘payit’ at the 2020 MEA Finance Awards and how he sees the post Covid-19 environment looking for payments, customers and business in the UAE.

Ramana Kumar, SVP and Head of Payments at First Abu Dhabi Bank

Congratulations on winning two categories at the last MEA Finance Awards for FAB’s ‘payit’. The first for Best Neo Bank and the second for Best User Experience. How does it feel to be recognized for these two important awards?

It feels great, thank you so much MEA awards for recognizing us. Payit is a brainchild of ours as well as part of the FAB’S DNA, in bringing something to the market that is 100% digital. We want to innovate and bring in services that become part of the life cycle of every customer. We’re very happy too that you’ve recognized us for best customer experience, because “payit’s” biggest or strongest advantage is the customer experience. We have customers from all different segments of society, there are blue collar workers, there are young students, there are young professionals, you know and we’re going to launch Manage wallet for the kids, for their parents to manage. There are salaried professionals and there are high income holders who pay their domestic help and others too, every one of them feels it’s for them. So we have hyper personalized it, the customer experience is seamless, and it’s frictionless. We spent a lot of time and energy in making sure that the app and the wallet are seamless and frictionless. This is what makes us different from other digital solutions and we’re very happy that and want to reiterate the fact that payit is for anyone, any resident of UAE who has a valid Emirates ID. It’s pretty easy to use, with seamless onboarding and you know, it gives me a great pleasure that we got recognized for those two aspects of differentiation in the market.

FAB’s “payit” has been awarded 2 categories in the last MEA Finance Awards 2020.

What is the scope for wallets in the region, specifically for FAB’s “payit”?

I think we’re going to see a proliferation of wallets and kudos to Central Bank who has opened up in terms of regulation, for many wallets to come in and for the market to disrupt and innovate itself, and we will see a lot of options for people in terms of usage of wallets to come. Those wallets that will survive are the ones who provide a lifecycle solution for the customer. It’s not, single use wallets are not going to survive. So if you look at the wallets who are going to be part of the life cycle, that iss where ‘payit’ stands. You can buy your coffee, you can buy your lunch, you can send money home, you can pay bills, you can send money to your friends, you can pay money at the merchants. So it involves your day to day activities and we want ‘payit’ to be part and parcel of day to day activities of every customer or every resident in the UAE. So those wallets that will survive are the wallets that will integrate with itself, integrate with wider ecosystem and become part of the ecosystem of the country. And that’s where ‘payit’ is going and we will surely be by far the largest wallet in the country and will grow quite aggressively.

As 2020 draws to a close, what are the most important lessons you have learned so far? And what are your plans for next year, 2021?

In medical terms, a lot of people have lost their lives which was a tragic thing to have happen. However, there are always opportunities that evolve out of challenges and COVID has given us certain opportunities. COVID has told us that we can still work while not physically being present in office. It has told us the business can still continue while not being physically present. So what it opened up, was a 20 year, aggressive evolutionary push in terms of digital agenda. And we are very, very fortunate that at FAB we were already invested to be ready for this scenario. So when COVID hit us, we actually quickly mobilized and we adapted ourselves to the new challenge. And that’s why we have seen that across the scope of payments, we were the fastest growing payments partner in the country. And then in terms of ‘payit’ as a wallet, our customer base doubled during the COVID scenario. And it’s not just that, we have started seeing people using it more, which actually shows that it has become the new way for people, the new way for the usage of digital channels and digital solutions. And we are very proud that we have helped our customers during these challenging times. And there are many more to come and it’s just the start. Keep watching the space.

Ramana Kumar, SVP and Head of Payments at First Abu Dhabi Bank (center) with Andrew Cover, Director, MEA Finance (left) and Kenneth Mitchen, Executive Director and Publisher, MEA Finance (right)