Airship

Improving Customer Service Via Mobile Banking

David Murphy

Oman Arab Bank is a leading bank in Oman, partly owned by Arab Bank PLC. It has achieved significant efficiencies in customer service and the opening of new revenue streams from SMS-based mobile banking. Oman Arab Bank implemented BANKSMART from Acette Technologies, which is powered by Derdack’s message master xsp.
The bank’s new ‘Tawasul’ SMS-based mobile banking service is a key tool for customer acquisition and retention, and increasing market share in Oman. 
“We are committed to offering superior services to the Omani market. Our use of BANKSMART and the SMS platform provided by message master xsp has enabled the bank to develop a competitive advantage in terms of services that we offer our customers,” says Hassan Abdul Ali Al-Lawati, the bank's Deputy General Manager and IT-Head.

Core functionality allied to SMS

The bank needed a secure, reliable and efficient SMS-based mobile banking service that could maintain its highly personalised and responsive customer service standards. This led the bank to look for a system that could combine banking functionality and SMS messaging capabilities.
“We selected BANKSMART as it has the flexibility to be configured to meet our sophisticated requirements and to address growing demand for new banking services that are being launched continuously,” says Al-Lawati. “We now have a system that uniquely delivers both English and Arabic mobile banking functionality and has powerful features for exploiting SMS as a two-way communication channel.”

Exploiting Push and Pull SMS

Oman Arab Bank’s mobile banking service allows customers to access their accounts using any standard mobile device. Customers can carry out a range of banking tasks, such as viewing account balances and transactions, paying utility bills,or topping up pre-paid mobile phones, by sending a ‘Pull’ SMS message request to the bank.
Customers are also notified of account activity, and other confirmations and notifications are sent automatically by SMS. Alerts are generated on pre-defined events such as salary credits, account transactions or ATM withdrawals, and a choice of other banking events. This provides an effective safeguard against suspicious activities, which can be immediately queried by the customer.
SMS has now become a channel for the bank to communicate with customers, to inform them that a new cheque book, ATM or credit card is ready for collection. Customer service agents also have the ability to send free format SMS messages directly to the customer.
The bank has also found message master xsp’s ability to support Push and Pull marketing campaigns to be invaluable. Marketing and other bulk messages are sent via a high-speed interface to multiple mobile operators via SMSC links, while inbound SMS requests are automatically processed. This gives the bank a highly cost effective, responsive and targeted customer communication channel.

A secure, differentiated service
Oman Arab Bank has differentiated itself from competitors in its use of SMS as a key enabler of banking and payment services. It says it is the only bank in Oman that offers a range of options that can be accessed using SMS. An additional differentiator is that it can offer these service capabilities with a choice of Arabic or English language messages.
The customer reaction to the bank’s SMS banking service has been extremely positive. A key requirement for the service is security and reliability. Oman Arab Bank has devised a unique strategy for using BANKSMART and message master xsp to validate customer SMS requests using secure authentication tokens. This ensures that only genuine transactions are processed, and enhances the overall security of the service.

Building revenue from third-party collections

Another service that Oman Arab Bank offers is bill payment via SMS. The bank has generated additional revenue streams through transactions and collections for third parties such as mobile operators and utility companies. When a customer pays a bill using the mobile banking channel, Oman Arab Bank retains a fee for this service that is recovered from the recipient of the payment. With smartcards and top-ups growing at a rapid rate, this has proved to be a popular and increasingly valuable service for the bank. The ability to offer these services in Arabic has allowed a much wider usage amongst the largely Arabic-speaking population in Oman.
Oman Arab Bank has also simplified the process of transferring mobile prepaid credits. Top-up credit can be purchased through a retailer, who can then securely transfer the credit, in real-time directly to the customer via SMS. 
“Oman Arab Bank has shown what can be achieved by combining expert local knowledge, an innovative vision of how to exploit the SMS channel and the latest technology for mobile banking, to achieve revenue and customer growth," says Derdack Managing Director, Matthes Derdack.