KUWAIT: Kuwait Finance House (KFH) participated in “Investing in Kuwait- Capitalizing on Transformation” digital conference hosted by FT Live in partnership with fDi Magazine and Kuwait Direct Investment Promotion Authority (KDIPA). In the “Investing in Kuwait’s Future” session, Abdulwahab Al-Roshood, Acting Group Chief Executive Officer at Kuwait Finance House (KFH) said that the spread of the COVID-19 virus has prompted vast policy responses by the local regulators and financial sector.
He added that as an emergent response to the pandemic, local banks allowed a moratorium period of 6 months on all financing installments including waiver of profits and charges. Al-Roshood pointed out that banks were largely able to accommodate the unprecedented situation thanks to the higher level of capital and liquidity they accumulated compared to recent crisis episodes and the precautionary provisions they allocated based on the regulatory requirements.
He added that the close coordination between monetary policy and prudential measures has resulted in facilitatory policies regarding interest rates through cutting the discount rate to historical lows to reach 1.5 percent. Al-Roshood emphasized that KFH has always been diligent and proactive in our business model and in our methodology in embracing change and in dealing with crises. During COVID-19, it succeeded in utilizing the crises as an opportunity where KFH presented itself as part of the solution rather than part of the problem, fully utilizing its digital tools to facilitate customer services.
He mentioned that KFH tremendously demonstrated its CSR strategy of supporting the government in its efforts and measures to face the pandemic, adding that the pandemic has accelerated KFH’s strategy of digital transformation in terms of providing high-quality mobile banking services without interruption and focusing on health and safety of customers and employees.
Kuwait Vision 2035
Al-Roshood said that KFH is a key component of the 2035 vision as it is a world leading Islamic financial institution enabling national development and growth of the financial services industry while also helping facilitate the growth and diversification of investment efforts of many other economic sectors. He emphasized that that the private sector, in particular the banking industry, is well prepared to add value to this ambitious plan. Given mega-infrastructure projects, Kuwaiti banking sector is well-equipped to play an important role to support the long-term development of Kuwait’s infrastructure.
Al-Roshood stressed the importance of economic diversification for creating new revenue streams amid the social and economic investment requirements supported by investment potential. This role involves financing of these projects, providing comprehensive banking services starting from basic financing activity to more complex transactions as well as consulting, trade facilities and other banking business.
He added that by fully mobilizing the talented pool of highly educated young Kuwaiti nationals, the banking sector is a vital contributor in achieving this vision. Al-Roshood said: “We already activated our role as KFH is involved in nearly every major financing deal in Kuwait, from financing government and private companies for local projects to financing their ventures abroad more recently KIPIC’s LNG ventures.
Al-Roshood added that banks have already begun the transition of adopting and utilizing the disruptive technologies. Many of these financial institutions are teaming up with financial services technology providers who own unique solutions and expertise in areas outside of the banks’ traditional scope.
He explained that banks now offer a range of services ranging from consultation, analysis and technical support to the creation of digital platforms and apps. Al-Roshood added that Kuwaiti banks should partner with Fintech companies to keep upgrading their services while innovating new ones. This in turn creates opportunities for firms in tech sectors.
“As Kuwait vision 2035 is set to leverage digitalization, Information and communication technologies spending in Kuwait is estimated to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.2 percent between 2019 and 2024, reaching US$10.1bn by 2024. Growth will be driven by the increasing adoption of advanced technologies including artificial intelligence (AI), big data, cloud computing and Internet of Things (IoT).” He explained.
Al-Roshood said that Kuwait Finance House is a leader in innovation to expand and enhance the range of products and services. KFH released the first fully automated 24hr digital self-branches in Kuwait under the theme of KFH-Go and the first automated virtual queuing system for costumers, showing the emphasis on convenience and higher levels of service. Most importantly, KFH was among the first to deploy a cross border remittance service with RippleNet, putting KFH at the forefront of innovation in the region as KFH taps into blockchain technology as an enabler for its growth.
Al-Roshood said that in line with Kuwait 2035 vision, KFH supports and offers financing to several projects in vital sectors including infrastructure, energy, health care and education as well as it sees growth opportunities in all these business segments. He pointed to the efficiency of Islamic finance instruments in providing financing solutions that meet customers’ requirements, adding that Islamic financial sector in Kuwait embraced the need to innovation, digital transformation and to design and introduce new products which add value and to develop new processes to gain customers and market share.
On the other hand, given the saturated local market and the regulatory constraints, Al-Roshood said that the Islamic banks put into consideration expanding into nascent Islamic finance markets abroad, where they can boost their market expertise and resources to maintain growth.
KFH’s participation in the conference comes with the aim of promoting digital transformation and stimulating the business environment to strengthen Kuwait’s position as a digital hub in the region, and to emphasize the role of foreign direct investment. The conference discussed various topics and themes, such as: “Focus on the new Kuwait”, “The new normal- the role of Kuwait’s technology and telecoms sector in the post-Covid-19 world of work”, and “Kuwait’s capital markets and economic development”.