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Ahli United Bank B.S.C. (AUB) reported a net profit attributable to its equity shareholders of US$ 377.5 million for the first half of 2019. The net profit reflected an increase of 5.6% in H1/2019 as compared to the net profit of US$ 357.4 million achieved in H1/2018. The Q2/2019 net profit of US$ 184.7 million represents a 1.1% improvement over the Q2/2018 reported profit of US$ 182.7 million. The Basic Earnings per Share in H1/2019 were US 4.1 cents (+5.1%), compared to US 3.9 cents in H1/2018 (EPS: US 1.9 cents in Q2/2019 versus US 1.9 cents in Q2/2018).

Operating income grew by 2.9% to US$ 630.1 million during first six months of 2019 compared to US$ 612.4 million in H1/2018 mainly driven by an increase in net interest income by US$ 22.9 million (+4.9%) to US$ 490.2 million in H1/2019 compared to US$ 467.2 million in H1/2018 attributable to growth in average loans and investments. Net operating income increased (+4.5%) from US$ 570.1 million in H1/2018 to US$ 595.8 million in H1/2019. Cost to income ratio stood at 26.5% (H1/2018: 26.1%) reflecting the continuous focus on the rigorous implementation of broad based cost discipline and of an intelligent spend approach.

Solid asset quality levels were maintained with a non-performing loans ratio of 2.0% (31 December 2018: 1.9%) with specific provision coverage ratio of 85.1% (31 December 2018: 85.5%) and total provision coverage ratio of 188.6% (31 December 2018: 214.7%).

The Group’s total assets at 30 June 2019 increased by 7.1% to US$ 38.0 billion (31 December 2018: US$ 35.5 billion). Return on Average Assets was at 2.2% for H1/2019 (H1/2018: 2.3%). The Group’s equity attributable to owners at 30 June 2019 stood at US$ 3.9 billion (31 December 2018: US$ 3.9 billion). The Group’s Return on Average Equity (ROAE) achieved for H1/2019 was 18.4% (H1/2018: 18.8%).

Mr. Meshal Al-Othman, AUB Chairman, commented: “Despite mounting geopolitical tension in the region and subdued operating environments in AUB’s major markets, AUB continued its robust performance in first half of 2019 maintaining prudent and healthy growth in core earnings and operating net profit. AUB’s continued positive core performance is a testament to its well-managed business model based on diversification and cross border flows through its strategic investments across the Gulf and MENA region. Growth was underpinned by robust risk management and continuous focus to ensure the effective deployment of capital resources across the AUB Group’s current and targeted markets.”

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Ahli United Bank Accelerates Innovation, Honours Top Staff Pacesetters

Ahli United Bank Accelerates Innovation, Honours Top Staff Pacesetters

Ahli United Bank has held an award ceremony to honour the winners of the first edition of innovate@AUB, an initiative aimed at engaging all employees in driving innovation across its lines of business and empowering them to ideate and test new solutions to support organic growth and to better deliver on customers’ needs and expectations.

AUB’s Group CEO & Managing Director Adel El-Labban announced and congratulated the six winning finalists at the event, which was held at AUB’s headquarters in Bahrain in conjunction with parallel ceremonies beamed live by video conferencing from sister banks in Kuwait, Egypt and the UK.

Launched earlier in the year, ‘innovate@AUB’ is an ongoing and open opportunity platform for all AUB staff to present new ideas and approaches which have the potential to transform the way AUB does business and serves customers. The program is designed to inspire and engage fresh, out of the box thinking and to recognise and reward employees who submit original, practical proposals which result in a better process, product or service offering by AUB.

Participation in the program was substantial and broad-based. The first edition attracted over 90 entries from across AUB’s regional network, with six proposals making it to the winning podium. Successful proposals were rigorously evaluated based on their originality, practicality, strategic fit and potential impact.

The winning entries involved a number of practical and innovative proposals for process improvement, business growth, enhanced customer service and improved risk management, such as the introducing of a more robust tool to gauge customers’ satisfaction, the implementing of a fully digitized process for a key retail product, the setting up of collaborative inter-departmental platform to address customers’ needs as well as various upgrades to leverage the power and convenience of the AUB’s electronic channels.

Addressing attendees at this pan-Group event, Mr. El-Labban said: “As an idea-driven bank, it is exciting to recognise forward-thinking colleagues who are driving positive change and moving AUB forward. All participants are winners through their pro-active contribution. The six prize winners of this pilot round should serve as an inspiration to all colleagues to be part of this sustained effort to contribute ideas, big or small, and to influence useful changes in a practical, well-considered manner”.

“This initiative is part of AUB’s ongoing plans to remain financially agile and digitally relevant as we continue to build on our strengths in adapting to the ever-changing banking landscape and in staying ahead of the competitive and technological curve”, said Mr. El-Labban.

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Ahli United Bank Launches Remit to India with No Fees

Ahli United Bank Launches Remit to India with No Fees

Ahli United Bank announced the launch of Remit to India, an online remittance platform to India. To promote this unique offering, AUB will not be charging any fees for Remit to India until 31st October 2019.

The Remit to India service provides customers with the capability to send money to over 75,000 bank branches in India in a fast, easy and convenient manner through AUB’s online banking or mobile banking apps. AUB customers are now empowered to manage their remittance transactions to India 24X7 through their mobile phones.

Remit to India has been designed to make sending money home easy, low cost and quick. The platform is easy to navigate with simple steps to add and manage beneficiaries and offers attractive exchange rates.

The bank, as a special offer to customers, has announced the Remit to India service with no fees until 31st October 2019. The Remit to India platform is facilitated with the NEFT network in India and will soon add the IMPS service as well. AUB is planning to offer this service on its ATM network shortly.

Suvrat Saigal, Deputy Group CEO-Retail Banking, AUB, commented: “We recognize that our customers have a significant requirement for an efficient remittance product. With this in mind, we are delighted to offer Remit to India which has been specially designed to make remittances low cost, quick and easy”.

By simply logging onto their AUB internet/mobile banking account, customers can start using Remit to India. Customers can call the AUB contact center 17221999 for more details.

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AUB Launches the Next Generation of Mobile Banking

AUB Launches the Next Generation of Mobile Banking

Ahli United Bank announces the launch of its next generation mobile banking application which will make Banking significantly easier. The AUB mobile app has now been enhanced with multiple additional functionalities, offering ease of navigation and a customer centric user experience that empowers customers to manage their banking transactions anytime and anywhere using their mobile phones.

The AUB mobile app enables first time users to register themselves, therefore there is no need to visit the Branch to register. There will no longer be need for passwords as the app enables facial recognition or fingerprint to access the app. In addition, customers will easily be able to choose from the wide range of services enhancing the customers’ banking experience including additional services for transferring money, paying bills, a currency converter, or set up and management of their beneficiaries. Customers can download the app at Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

Suvrat Saigal, Deputy Group CEO-Retail Banking, AUB, commented: “We are delighted to introduce the new generation of mobile banking in Bahrain. As a customer centric Bank, AUB is committed to delivering solutions that simplify our customers Banking experience by giving them easy access to services where and when they require and providing integrated end-to-end banking solutions to our clients.”

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Ahli United Bank Announces the Winners of MyHassad Awards for June 2019

Ahli United Bank Announces the Winners of MyHassad Awards for June 2019

Ahli United Bank (AUB) recently announced the winners of MyHassad Awards for June 2019. On the occasion, Abdulrahman Abdulraheem Abdulrahman, the winner of $500,000 MyHassad Prize stated, “I have never expected to win the Grand Prize! I am a client of Ahli United Bank, and have recently acquired a new MyHassad certificate since May 2019 from Isa Town Branch.” He added, “I was thrilled when I received the call informing me that I had won the quarterly award valued at $500,000. My whole family and my friends could not express their delight and happiness, it was like a dream made reality through the efforts of Ahli United Bank.” When interviewed about what his plans were for the prize; he commented, “The prize has completely changed my life, I plan to invest it within the Kingdom by purchasing real estate.”

Mr. Hilal Abdullah Al-Hanan, the winner of $250,000 MyHassad Prize of June 2019 similarly commented, “Winning the award was an unexpected and welcome surprise. I have been a customer of Ahli United Bank for many years, and had participated in the bank’s sweepstakes 20 years ago, whereby I received a certificate from the Sitra branch. I never lost hope of being a winner.” He continued by stating, “How I have felt, since receiving the call from the bank informing me of winning the $250,000 prize, cannot be described. My family members were also overwhelmed with delight at the news.” He concluded by saying, “I’m thinking of buying a piece of land with the prize money, and then investing the remaining balance into MyHassad’s program.“

MyHassad – the biggest award prizes program in the kingdom of Bahrain – has successfully registered the largest number of winners and the largest number of awards compared to any other savings program in the Kingdom. Since its inception, MyHassad has offered cash prizes exceeding BD67 million Bahrain for more than 16 thousand winners from its customers.

AUB recently announced the launch of the new version of the popular savings program, “MyHassad”, which is being launched again this year with a series of prizes, the largest in Bahrain with a total of more than US$8 million, which will be topped by the “MyHassad Millionaire” award, which will award one million US dollars to one winner in the draw to be held later this year for this prestigious Grand Prize.

In addition to this grand award, the bank also disclosed the details of the new periodic draws on several of the weekly, monthly and quarterly awards and special Eid awards that were created to provide the Bank’s customers in Bahrain with a more lucrative season for cash prizes and opportunities to win more and more than ever before.

The new season will start with a weekly draw of a US$25,000 allocated for customers in Bahrain and a further BD20,000 in a weekly draw to provide more win-win opportunities for the widest segment of customers throughout the year.

This year’s “MyHassad” program also targeted its customers with a monthly prize of BD100,000 (US$265,000), which increases in value every three months to the US$500,000 Grand Prize, as these prizes were designed to grant them with financial freedom to realize their dreams and ensure their financial stability.

In order to qualify for the draw, each balance of BD50 entitles the holder to one chance to participate and win in the draws. The higher the amounts you save and the longer period you maintain them, the greater the chances of winning the prizes.

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How Digital Transformation Is Changing Banking

How Digital Transformation Is Changing Banking

Gulf Insider spoke with Samih Abutaleb, Group Head of Digital Transformation, Ahli United Bank one of the biggest financial firms in Bahrain, on how they approach digital transformation.

What is the greatest threat facing the banking industry today?
Abutaleb: Customer expectations present a valuable opportunity for organizations in the banking industry. Some might consider them the greatest threat facing the industry, but at Ahli United Bank we have always strived to service our customers with the best and latest technology available, thus enabling us to make the most out of the ongoing wave of digital transformation by putting the customer first.Previously, businesses had the luxury of dictating the time, place and method to conduct business with their customers while today customers expect to interact with their service providers at their own convenience through multiple touchpoints. This shift is driving the banking industry to transform to enhance their customer experience and add value to their services.

This opportunity comes at a time when the market in Bahrain is ripe for change, with excellent Government support through initiatives such as Bahrain FinTech Bay, the largest FinTech hub in the MENA region, and a pioneering regulator that is working to develop an advanced regulatory environment that supports FinTech innovation.

What does digital transformation mean to you and Ahli United Bank?
Abutaleb: Digital transformation is about change and speed. The banking industry is very competitive, and we need to keep up with smaller, more nimble financial firms, including FinTechs, as well as the larger established ones. We are approaching digital transformation by evolving IT and how we engage with our bank stakeholders. This means identifying new IT-business working models and identifying new technologies. We are continually driving innovation to meet business objectives.

What are the roles and responsibilities of the digital team?
Abutaleb: Ahli United Bank introduced a digital team to work with business units and understand their goals. The digital team is also responsible for engaging with other financial services companies to understand best practices and see how they are innovating. From there, we put together a plan that goes from developing new products to new distribution methods and increasing the efficiency of IT.

Strong internal engineering capabilities
We brought in new competencies around engineering as it is now the core of what we do. And we embraced agile IT to enable delivery, which meant organizing it around small multi-disciplined teams (squads) and empowering them to make decisions. We also introduced product owners from the business to work in our IT squads.

Cloud-native application architecture
The success of cloud-native companies like Google and Amazon is driven by their cloud-native software development methods. These companies are agile, move quickly, and we want to replicate what they do. With major improvements to our application architecture, we aim to have less than 10% of our applications remain legacy within three to five years.

Modernized infrastructure
We need to implement a next-generation infrastructure to enable our complex IT environment. IaaS and PaaS services are good for this, in Bahrain, banks can use public clouds and we want that level of agility, so we built our own cloud strategy to completely own open-source tools and easily shift our environment over. The private cloud will give us the ability to scale up and down as needed.

Integrated security
Information security must be embedded into all our processes and products including new technology, but more importantly, continuous user training. Ahli United Bank employees are much more aware of phishing risks through training and simulated phishing attacks.

How are Ahli United Bank driving innovation internally?
As with any major transformation within an organization, Executives’ buy-in and management support is critical. At Ahli United Bank, we have tremendous support from our Board of Directors and Group CEO as they believe technology is at the core of the bank, and it will help us continue our success as one of the leading banks in the region. A culture of innovation that is championed by leadership and cascaded through the organization is the fuel powering our digital transformation journey.