Riyad Bank’s digital strategy relies on adopting modern technologies and innovative business solutions. But, at the same time, it goes beyond that to harnessing the power of innovation to create a distinct customer experience and added value for all stakeholders. This allows us to contribute actively to improve the overall value of the digital economy and contribute to the achievement of key strategic initiatives in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.

Since the launch of the Bank’s transformation strategy, and its efforts to align with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and economic road map, we have adopted - innovation - as one of the four pillars of the digitization strategy and the basis for the Bank’s expansion. This pillar aims to develop and automate all transactions and expand the Bank’s financial services on both the digital and physical levels. Since 2018, the strategy has achieved remarkable success, as the Bank has made significant progress in the technical and digital infrastructure, as well as many successful experiences in terms of innovation, development and digitization.

Accelerating our digital transformation

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the world in 2020, the Bank experienced significant challenges in implementing its business plans in Digital and Business Technology sectors. Implementation priorities during the year were re-arranged to enable continuity of service through remote business enablement. Despite this, work continued on the digital transformation journey. This included modifying and developing many systems and services to match the business market changes in support of the Bank's vision and strategy such as implementing a new IT infrastructure, starting a mission to utilize big data and advanced analytics, digitizing the customer journey, and pursuing collaborations with digital start-ups and entrepreneurs.

Digitizing the Customer Journey

Digitizing the customer’s journey has been a key part of the year’s initiatives. Developing digital channels and adding more banking services to the Bank’s digital platform became vital to empower customers to conduct their transactions in spite of social distancing. The impact of the pandemic was to act as a catalyst to accelerate a process of digitalization already underway. Retail Banking designed end-to-end digital customer journeys for account opening and credit journeys to boost sales as well as client on-boarding, meeting customer demands despite the impact of the pandemic.

To better serve the customer, several other digital banking systems and procedures were updated by the Bank , such as the system for opening corporate accounts, the procedure for opening individual accounts, inquiries about transfers, enabling password resets, and the e-wallet monitoring system.

Digital Channels Performance

The digital channels within the bank were also redesigned and reorganized to keep up the pace with the rapid growth of digital banking while still keeping in mind the overall customer experience. Several key services were added and updated on the channels, including applying for various banking products and services, account opening, various financing applications, credit cards, card management services, issuance and reissuance of payment cards, loading and unloading them, requests to stop credit cards, and the delivery of account statements, etc. In addition, support and maintenance services for user devices were assigned to a company specialized in this field, and Service Level Agreement (SLA) was implemented to manage this service and obtain the best results.

In addition we also communicated with an international specialist in digital solutions in order to benchmark our Mobile Channel against international digital banks and other traditional-turned-digital banks using the “Friction Score” methodology which analyses: Time, Number of fields, Swipes, Wipes, Clicks, Screens, etc. This exercise was carried out in order improve the user experience.

Responding to the Pandemic

In line with the precautions and procedures related to social distancing, the business technology team's main priority was to facilitate remote working for employees. This important step included supporting and updating security and protection systems, activating remote working for the call center and customer service centre, enabling virtual communications and conference services, and enabling more than 4,000 employees to work remotely in all regions. The Remote Action Plan has been successfully implemented as part of the Bank's crisis management process to overcome the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Saudi Central Bank's action plan in response to the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the easing of restrictions imposed on some regulatory requirements in order to facilitate social distancing. In addition, allowing customers to register their digital signatures and approvals for products helped the Bank to provide better services, which in turn facilitated compliance with the instructions of the concerned authorities regarding maintaining social distancing. These actions also benefitted branch services as they prompted the migration of customers to digital banking.

The Bank has put in place two very important initiatives. The first relates to the application of internal and external cloud computing, private and public clouds, to accelerate systems development processes and support remote work methodology. This initiative marked a step towards improving operational efficiency and reducing costs. This will allow the growing cloud computing services in the Kingdom the opportunity to improve - while forging partnerships with the financial technology community.

The second initiative is data and machine learning, which has become a major focus of the Bank in order to gain insights and analysis particularly in areas such as Risk. During the pandemic, the Business Intelligence team was able to provide an analysis of the entire SME base within a few days to identify vulnerable sectors, determine liquidity requirements, and provide a basis for the Bank to help its customers to transition to a digital platform. We have partnered with major players in e-commerce and fintech to create a solution that enables us to help our customers start generating recurring revenues, and this model is being actively promoted in the market. Moreover, the installation of devices began the huge data warehouse as a first phase of the project will be completed during the year 2021.

New developments

As part of this overall focus on digitization as a channel to create value and a distinct customer experience, the Bank has restructured the digital group to focus on innovation, data and intelligence, which will be the main driver in initiatives such as open banking, cloud service, and banking services. We also aim to develop a unified management platform for digital channels. The management follow-up mechanism has been modernized to enable the Bank to closely and directly follow the progress of banking operations and performance indicators in general.

This year witnessed many other information systems projects , the most important of which are:

  • Changes in the direction of manual process automation which increased efficiency, reduced errors and added value to customer service.
  • Completion of the first and second stages of the mobile human capital system (My-HC) which contributes to improving the work environment and raising the Organization’s Health Index (OHI). In addition, the salary system in the human capital system has been updated.
  • Completion of the credit card processing project, which contributes to the speedy provision of electronic payment card services and reduces operating costs.

The Bank has also completed a project to improve the customer service system in preparation for using it through portable tablets. This will provide customers with improved access and services. Several important updates were also made to the London branch’s systems.

As part of its drive to achieve digitalization, the Bank is taking advantage of the latest technologies such as artificial intelligence. The Bank has expanded its interactive channels using innovative and advanced technologies. An example of this is the intelligent interactive system developed to respond to customer inquiries.

Business technology

During the year under review, the Bank witnessed a great challenge in implementing the business plans of the IT sector in light of the pandemic. The Bank rearranged implementation priorities to enable remote work for Riyad Bank employees, call centers and customer service, as well as developing electronic channels and adding more electronic banking services for customers. Customer loans were also scheduled and processed according to the instructions and initiatives issued by SAMA to mitigate the damages of the pandemic. Responding to SAMA instructions promptly and effectively, required tremendous effort and collaboration. Likewise, plans to implement cloud computing have been accelerated as they are expected to support the rapid transformation of the information technology sector on the one hand, and contribute to lowering operating costs on the other hand .

The IT Department has effectively contributed to a number of achievements in terms of technically supporting other sectors, and has worked to change and develop many systems and services to match the needs of the market in support of the Bank’s vision and strategy towards the forefront. This year witnessed the expansion of automating more processes in all sectors using modern technologies by adding more than 20 robots that completed more than 300,000 transactions. Artificial intelligence systems have also begun to be implemented to enrich customer service, such as the introduction of two machine chat systems (Chatbot). In addition, as part of the direct payment project (Instant Payment System) with the Saudi Payments Company and selected banks, a pilot project was completed with digital currency and with the participation of selected banks from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and their respective central banks. The Bank also focused on improving the work environment and raising the Work Environment Index and the Organization Health Index (OHI). The second phase of My-HC was also completed. The implementation of a unified management platform for electronic channels has also begun with the aim of enriching the customer's experience and unifying banking services across various channels. In addition the Bank is also updating, developing and improving the performance of a set of electronic banking systems and procedures and work procedures in the Information Systems Technology Department.

Business Technology Governance and Information Security

Information technology governance focuses on ensuring the effective and efficient use of information technology to enable the Bank to achieve its objectives. This is achieved by creating synergy between the IT strategy and the business strategy. The concept of business technology governance contributes to reducing risks associated with technology and enhancing technical flexibility to ensure uninterrupted business efficiency.

Among the most important contributions of business technology governance in 2020 are;

  • Successful implementation of remote working as part of the Bank's crisis management process for the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • A compulsory business continuity education course has been designed and added to the Riyad Bank Knowledge Academy portal.
  • The completion of 70 management tests covering all the important departments in the Bank. These tests included operating recovery scenarios from the alternative work site in order to ensure the continuity of work for all departments in the event of any interruption related to any of the Bank’s main sites.
  • More than 40 technical frameworks between policies and standards for managing and controlling business technology processes were designed and implemented. Successful implementation of the Enterprise Architecture Design Tool Project which will link between the Bank’s strategy and the development requirements for expansion.
  • Upgrade and implementation of the enterprise architecture tool that supports the workflow and integration between the two configuration management database systems.
  • Executing a set of activities that manage information technology assets across the Bank for the purpose of raising operational efficiency while reducing technical risks and controlling operating costs for systems and their components.
  • Successful completion of all requirements necessary to upgrade the Business Continuity Quality Certificate (ISO 22301) from2012 to the latest version 2019 to ensure that the Bank is in line with global best practices. This certification confirms the Bank’s ability to continue business under all circumstances and thus contribute to raising the level of customer confidence in the Bank’s operations.