Bank ABC Launches 'ila' - Its Digital, Mobile-Only Bank in Bahrain

"ila Bank" is the latest in a series of digital initiatives by MENA's leading international bank to promote Bahrain as a fintech hub for the region.

Al Waary during ila Bank launch event

Bank ABC today launches ila Bank, foraying into the digital, mobile-only banking space, beginning with Bahrain with a roadmap to take it across the MENA region. ila reflects Bank ABC’s commitment to drive the financial services sector to the next frontier, combining technology with a human-centric design to redefine banking for the next generation. The launch took place in an impressive ceremony at the Ritz Carlton Hotel Bahrain on 24th November amidst government and Central Bank dignitaries, business community leaders along with ila and Bank ABC staff.   

Arabic for the word ‘to’, ila promises to propel its users from where they are, “to” where they want to be, enabling their long-and-short-term goals and aspirations through an extremely personalised approach to banking and financial management, aided by cutting-edge technology and sophisticated data analytics.

“At Bank ABC, we see change as an opportunity – to become more relevant to our customers and to evolve and to grow with them,” says Dr. Khaled Kawan, Group CEO of Bank ABC. “This is an exciting time not just for us, but also for the country. Digital transformation presents a huge opportunity to drive lasting positive change throughout the Kingdom, something that Bank ABC is proud to be leading.”

As opposed to traditional banks, ila has been conceived and built differently from the ground up, keeping the customers and their rapidly evolving needs at its core: ila is agile, connected and intuitive.

“We recognise that the customers of today are not the same as the customers of tomorrow,” added Bank ABC Deputy Group CEO Mr. Sael Al Waary, who is spearheading this strategic initiative.

“And so, it became our obsession and challenge to create a bank that mirrors their fast, connected and always on the go lifestyles. We merged cutting edge technology and human understanding to create a bank that is aligned with modern life.

“​ila is designed to listen to our customers, study their lifestyles and priorities, and offer them an intuitive banking support that is completely attuned with their financial needs, something that is also deftly conveyed by our brand promise, ‘Banking that reflects you’,” said Mr. Al Waary. 

ila’s initial offering:

·      Completely digital onboarding within minutes with just two forms of ID and a selfie. 

·      Users are issued a Virtual debit card as soon as they onboard for immediate use for online transactions.

·      Flexible funding options including in-app integration with the country’s leading payment channel.

·      Multiple foreign currency accounts that can be linked to a single card. Users can transfer funds between these accounts without the worry of excessive fees.

·      A current account that encourages people to save more by rewarding them with a higher interest rate on higher balance, which will be calculated daily and paid monthly.

·      In-app full card control features, including set/reset pin, freeze/unfreeze a misplaced card, block and instantly reorder in the case of lost or stolen cards

·      Digital DNATM Customer Assistant Fatema, who will be available across social media to keep people and community informed about ila and will be able to answer customer questions through ila’s website 24/7. 

“This is the beginning of the journey, and as we gather more insights about our customers, ila will evolve as well, giving users the chance to co-create future features,” says Mr. Al Waary. “With ila we aim to offer lifestyle banking that caters to your everyday life needs from the moment you wake up till you go to sleep.” 

Driving positive social impact 

ila has created quality jobs and internships for young Bahraini professionals - over 80% of ila employees are Bahraini and 84% are under 40 years old. Furthermore, the mobile-banking app is positioned to promote financial inclusion in the MENA region, something that Bank ABC is extremely passionate about, with the lowest required income threshold to open an account in Bahrain. 

The ila Bank app is available for download on Google Play and Apple App store. Prospective customers will be able to join our waitlist and be the first to gain early access and experience the newest bank on the island.

Bank ABC’s modernisation programme 

ila is the latest in a series of ‘firsts’ that underlines Bank ABC’s strategy to “modernise, evolve and disrupt” traditional banking within MENA and position Bahrain as a fintech hub for the region.

In September, the Bank introduced Fatema, MENA’s first emotionally intelligent digital employee and world’s first AI avatar developed using Digital DNATM. She is now ila’s first digital customer service executive.

The Bank has also made significant strides in digitising its wholesale operations to drive operational efficiencies and improve client service.

Additionally, in order to accelerate transformation and foster a more agile work culture, a Group Innovation Function was set up earlier this year. The team’s dedicated space in the Head Office called ABC Labs has been built to facilitate ideation and innovation across the Group.

Source: Bank ABC

About Bank ABC

Bank ABC is an international bank headquartered in Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain.
Our network spreads across five continents, covering countries in the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, the Americas and Asia.

Bank ABC
Road 402
Manama, Capital Governorate


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