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Prime Bank to see ‘total change’ in two years

Its MD tells FE on 25th anniversary

Ismail Hossain | April 17, 2019 00:00:00

Rahel Ahmed

Prime Bank Limited will be a totally new and different bank within the next two years trailblazing innovative retail and wholesale products, new business model, and digital transformation, the bank's managing director (MD) said in an interview.

"The bank is turning around, and going for a leap forward. The transformation will be visible within the next two years," Prime Bank MD and CEO Rahel Ahmed told The Financial Express (FE) in an interview at the bank's head office.

He said the country's banks and financial institutions are undergoing through digital transformation, and Prime Bank is also not away from digital wave.

"It is an ongoing process. What we have achieved so far is just a basic setup for full digital transformation," he added.

The second generation bank enters 25th year today (Wednesday).

Speaking on the transformation, he said among other changes, the bank is planning massive transformation in its human resources.

"We are moving to specialized human resources skill-set. And we are working on it."

He said Prime Bank is designing unique digital products for wholesale, large corporate and commercial clients.

"I am not telling details about these now, as it is trade secret. But everybody will see these soon."

As part of the bank's digital transformation, the bank launched a new savings instrument - Prime DiGi - in February, which allows customers to open accounts online and without any initial deposit.

Prime DiGi offers various services, including balance inquiry, account statement, fund transfer, credit card payment, utility bill payment, mobile recharge, insurance premium payment, and transaction history.

Rehal Ahmed said the beginning of Prime DiGi was very successful. In the first month, thousands of people opened accounts without coming to the bank branches physically.

"And most of them belonged to our target group - the youth of the country."

He opined that there are enormous potentials for consumer banking in Bangladesh.

"We are one of the fastest growing countries, having an expanding middle class, and there are not many new consumer products targeting them."

"The country's banking sector didn't explore these potentials. We are devising new consumer and SME (small and medium enterprises) products to materialise the potentials."

The Prime Bank MD further said the bank has been going through consolidation phases during the last three years.

"We are already getting the results. Despite a tough year for banking in 2018, Prime Bank is going to announce the highest dividend for 2018."

The bank is planning to start agent banking very soon to expand services in unbanked areas.

He also opined that most of the banking transactions in the country will be cashless by 2024.

"But before going cashless, our entire banking ecosystem has to be changed."

Rahel Ahmed also predicted that artificial intelligence will be widely used in next generation banking.

"Not only that, there will be virtual banking and virtual branches. The real bank branches will be much smaller than those of now. The banking sector has to be ready from now to do so," he added.

A career banker, Mr Ahmed tried to reshuffle Prime Bank after joining as its MD in December 2017. He also worked as DMD and Chief Business Officer after joining the bank in early 2015.

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