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Zand set to be the first fully independent digital bank in the UAE

UAE digital bank Zand plans to launch later this year. The Bank will become the first fully independent Bank in the UAE.

Zand will be the first fully independent digital bank in UAE when it launches later this year. The startup plans to service both retail and cooperate banking.  

"We think there is a huge opportunity. We are onboarding friends and family on both the retail and corporate side, and we should be ready to go to market in the next couple of months." Zand CEO Olivier Crespin CNBC moderated panel session at the Open Banking Ecosystem Summit hosted by QnA International

UAE's banking space is very competitive. According to CNBC, "Emirates NBD has already launched digital retail bank Liv and separate digital business bank E20 — leveraging its banking license, large customer base and established brand credibility. Liv claims to have 400,000 users."

"Other banking incumbents have chosen to partner with financial technology platforms as a means to grow their digital presence. Large international digital banks such as Revolut have also signaled an intention to enter the region, promising currency and crypto exchange services, person-to-person payments, and advanced personal finance analytics beyond the standard offering." CNBC

Zand has its plans of dealing with such competition. According to the Bank's CEO, the startup plans to offer interest rates of "around 2%" on deposits. Zand will also look to provide their new retail customer services similar to N26 and Revolut. The service range from cards, loans, accounts and personal financial management.

“We’re also focusing on the corporate side, where we are going to work primarily on supply chain finance. Olivie Crespin

Speaking on the upcoming launch of Zand, Bernd van Linder, CEO of Commercial Bank of Dubai, said “I think it’s a great development. The challenge that Zand puts to the banking sector, and one that I embrace and look forward to, is to make sure that we become as agile as fast and as innovative as (Zand) will be.”

“The big challenge for the digital banks … is to make money while you compete with lots of incumbents that have already developed their digital proposition, and who know how to make money on the back of lending,” he added.

UAE in focus

GDP: $421.142 billion compared to Saudi Arabia's $792.976 billion in 2019

Population: 9,770,529 compared to Saudi Arabia's 34,268,528 in 2019

GDP per capita: $43,103 compared to Saudi Arabia's $23,139 in 2019