Banks in Bahrain play a significant role to supplement and facilitate the government stimulus support program.
Around 200+ senior banking sector officials in the region attended KPMG’s webinar “Covid-19: Implications for the GCC banking sector” to discuss priority areas and opportunities for banks during the current challenging times. The COVID-19 pandemic is having an unprecedented impact on financial markets globally and regionally with implications for operating models, employees, suppliers, customers and in turn financial results. This coupled with the effects of drop in oil prices, creates a unique set of challenges that banks will inevitably face in the medium term.
The session was organized KPMG in Middle East & South Asia (“MESA”) region to provide the banking community in the region an opportunity to gain insights from the following KPMG regional panel of experts: Mahesh Balasubramaniam, Partner, Financial Services at KPMG Bahrain; Bhavesh Gandhi, Audit Partner and Head of Financial Services at KPMG Kuwait; Ravikanth Petluri, Audit Director at KPMG Oman; Omar Mahmood, Audit Partner and Head of Financial Services KPMG Qatar; Ovais Shahab, Head of Financial Services at KPMG Saudi Arabia; Abbas Basrai, Partner and Head of Financial Services at KPMG UAE.
During the online session, Mahesh shared his perspective on Bahrain’s banking landscape; he also highlighted the importance of the readiness of systems, organization structure, products and digital assets to facilitate the government stimulus support program. In Bahrain, the government has announced a BD 4.3bn stimulus package to counter the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak. This means deferment of payments for loans for six months, revising pricing for new loans for the affected sectors and customers; and cancellation of fees imposed on point of sale and ATM withdrawal fees, are all additional operational challenges banks needs to prepare for and deal with.
He elaborated on the challenges facing the banking sector, and said “The pandemic crisis has also been a live test to banks ’digital transformation’ programs in Bahrain. There has been an increasing demand on digital assets rather than the historical preference for ‘in person’ banking. Offering services and products without branches puts more emphasis on customers’ digital experience and requirements than ever before. The situation also demands both employees and customer to work from home, which puts further cyber security pressures on banks”
“Digital transformation is no longer a luxury, but a necessity. Banks that are agile, flexible and willing to transform their business models will be the ones that succeed, and secure their financial strength for future growth. Today, banks need to start reviewing and planning how to respond to the operational and regulatory challenges while contributing to the economic recovery and growth in the short and medium terms” Mahesh concluded.
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