Fully digital banks or neo-banks including global names like Revolut and N26 are expected to hit 35 million customers worldwide next year, nearly tripling their current numbers, according to a Business Insider Intelligence report.
The UAE has its own version: Liv.
Launched by Emirates NBD in May 2017, Liv. is a mobile-only bank offering a lifestyle-first intuitive banking experience targeted at millennials and Gen Z.
Don’t look for branches. They don’t exist
“We wanted to set up a digital bank for millennials and Gen-Z, where we will not only simplify things from a banking perspective but also look at today’s unique lifestyle choices for consumers to help them achieve more of what they want for what they have,” announced Jayash Patel, Head of Liv., in an exclusive interview with AMEinfo.
The bank’s easy to use app features include instant and completely paperless account opening, in-network peer-to-peer fund transfers, instant bill splits with friends, international remittances, and curated daily feeds of customized deals and happenings in the UAE, among others.
These types of services are finding great appeal among the new consumer, especially when backed by Emirates NBD, a banking Group with 233 branches and which as of 30th June 2019 had total assets of around $146 bn, and with over 90% of retail financial transactions and requests conducted digitally, safely and securely outside of its branches.
“We have seen extremely high customer adoption at Liv., and as a result, we are acquiring more customers a month than any other bank. This is a testament to customers being open to adapting digital services in banking,” says Patel.
After celebrating a quarter of a million customers just a few months ago, Liv. is reaching 300,000 customers very soon.
To bank with Liv. is to give
According to Patel, an important element for the next generation is to choose organizations that are not just doing things right but are also doing the right things.
In July 2019, Liv. announced a donation of AED 50,000 ($13,624) to UAE-based global philanthropic organisation Dubai Cares, as part of a charity campaign. Liv. also gave users the chance to win instant prizes such as shopping, dining, beauty and fitness vouchers, passes to premium events and cash prizes.
Earlier in April, Liv was also in the giving mood, for cash and a private island!
Those who use their Liv. banking app and debit card to carry out transactions, sign up for new products or update their personal details can earn ‘Livion’ loyalty points. Every 100 Livions is worth 1 entry into the competition. The ultimate winner from 20 finalists will be rewarded with his/her private island, in addition to an AED100,000 ($27,250) cash prize, to be announced in October 2019.
This smart cause-related and style-focused marketing has earned Liv. thousands of new account openings with each such initiative.
Digital banking that delivers financial solutions
Liv. provides the connected generation with lifestyle-oriented opportunities to spend, but the neo-bank wants them to spend it wisely and with purpose.
“We focus a lot on educating customers on where they are spending their money because most people don’t keep tabs on that so we focus on providing simple tools for tracking expenses, usually a tough thing, but we suggest easy simplified ways,” says Patel.
One such solution is the GOAL account which helps consumers meet their financial goals by taking care of the UAE fils and letting the Dirhams look after themselves.
“GOAL’s savings accounts are doing well. We are nurturing a culture of saving for a purpose.”
Your digital banking journey with Liv. starts by opening a current account: Scan your Emirates ID and answer a few questions, all in 2 minutes. Once you’re in, at any time you can conveniently and quickly self-service your accounts without physically visiting a branch by changing your address, adding telephone numbers and others.
You can then begin doing modern banking transactions like peer to peer (P2P) transfers to a Liv customer fairly easily.
“From the Liv. app on your mobile, you can send money to anyone who is a Liv., Emirates NBD or Emirates Islamic customer or you can use WhatsApp or other social media links to invite other bank customers,” explains Patel.
New and innovative product launch
Liv. is planning to launch a credit card (CC). It’s not your typical run-of-the-mill payments card and will offer customers the flexibility to continuously meet their changing likes and preferences.
“Our card will have a lot of very cool tech behind it as we have collaborated with several finTechs from across the globe,” announces Patel.
“With this card, if you want to earn airline loyalty points, or later cash them in, that’s fine, easy and no need to reapply. We built a platform where multiple loyalty providers can come on the platform and tend their services, giving customers an unprecedented level of choice. We created an e-commerce platform on the CC coupled with an ecosystem of rewards where other providers or firms can put their services allowing the consumer to shop for a number of add-ons.”
Liv.: A FinTech hub
Liv. looks at itself as effectively a FinTech, supported by Emirates NBD.
“We nurture a perpetually innovative environment where we develop and build financial technology solutions both internally and with other FinTech and digital start-ups, locally and internationally,” explains Patel.
“We have at least 7 or 8 FinTech partnerships and are always looking to expand, looking at FinTech trends globally.”
Chat Bot Olivia
In March 2019, Liv. partnered with New York-based Kasisto to introduce Olivia, an AI-powered conversational chatbot, allowing customers to get account information and insights on their spending as naturally as texting a friend. With a deep understanding of Liv.’s banking and lifestyle offerings, Olivia helps customers get quick answers on how to make a local transfer or to block their card; text back account balance or find how many Livions they have earned, among others. Gartner predicts bots will handle no less than 85% of all customer interactions in the near future.
Liv. continues to spring ahead of the curve, looking to provide more out-of-the-box choices for the ever-changing lifestyle tastes of today’s and tomorrow’s retail customers.