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Arab Bank: Driving innovation and an app dev revolution with Google Cloud

About Arab Bank

Arab Bank, headquartered in Amman, Jordan, has more than 600 branches spanning five continents. The bank provides a wide range of financial products and services for individuals, corporations, and other financial institutions. Its products and services cover consumer banking, corporate and institutional banking, and treasury services.

Industries: Financial Services & Insurance
Location: Jordan

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Arab Bank brought new powers to its hybrid infrastructure with Google Cloud, strengthening its leadership position in the market and modernizing to help win new customers.

Google Cloud results

  • Faster application development and deployment
  • Anthos has supported faster customer onboarding through mobile applications
  • Anthos provides a consistent operations experience for both cloud and on-premises resources across geographic regions

App development process compressed from one year to about three months

When you’ve already been declared the Top Bank in the Middle East by Global Finance magazine for six years in a row, what do you do next? Keep innovating.

Arab Bank has been a leader since it was founded in 1930 as one of the first private-sector financial institutions in the Arab world. Although Arab Bank boasts a longstanding track record in the markets it serves, it recognizes the need to be forward-looking to maintain that position.

With 2020 assets of $54.4 billion, Arab Bank is publicly held and listed on the Amman Stock Exchange, where it represents a substantial part of the entire value of the exchange. It currently serves customers through over 600 branches located on five continents. However, to capitalize on the tremendous upside opportunities in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, Arab Bank must be highly innovative, grow its cloud footprint, and engage with emerging fintech companies.

According to Wamda Research, 85 percent of the population in the region remains unbanked, and 50 percent of existing bank customers are interested in new digital tech capabilities. Arab Bank wanted to make sure it had the agility to respond quickly to that growing consumer market as well as to the small and midsize enterprise (SME) sector, where speed is also essential in delivering new applications and rapid service.

“Google Cloud gives us a sound, stable, and resilient way to scale up more and more digital journeys.”

Eric Modave, Chief Operating Officer, Arab Bank

Digital relevance

The MENA region has a young population that is rapidly adapting to the digital world. The bank had many legacy systems and applications, and it was becoming harder to release new features and new functionality on a frequent basis. According to Chief Operating Officer Eric Modave, Arab Bank recognized that it needed to accelerate innovation and achieve digital relevance with all its customer segments. The aim is to help them improve their lives and businesses, delivering new and better digital solutions. These solutions provide frictionless journeys for those who want to manage their financial service requirements on a mobile device.

To advance these goals, Arab Bank adopted Google Cloud based on four factors: agility, security, cost, and Google’s ability to constantly innovate. “Google Cloud gives us a sound, stable, and resilient way to scale up more and more digital journeys,” Modave explained. While the cloud has become a means for improving digital banking, Arab Bank faces regulatory constraints such as data residency rules in the countries where it operates. To meet this challenge, the bank has adopted a hybrid model rather than pursue full-scale cloud adoption at this time.

“Arab Bank has been pleased with Google’s partnership because of its style of doing business, its relentless pace of innovation, and the many offerings and capabilities it delivers.”

Eric Modave, Chief Operating Officer, Arab Bank

Modernizing banking experiences for today’s customers

Arab Bank started its digital transformation journey by introducing a new way of working: defining a customized agile development methodology that can quickly fit into Arab Bank culture. The first Google product that Arab Bank took advantage of was Apigee, which serves as an API layer to connect the bank’s digital ecosystem to the outside world. As part of this change, the bank identified Google Anthos as a good platform for deploying cloud-native solutions in support of transformation. It quickly became the main platform to modernize apps faster and establish operational consistency across them. Anthos is vital for speeding and supporting new digital customer journeys such as mobile customer onboarding, mortgage app, instant loan digital journey, and many others.

Digital customer adoption rates have grown over the past year. More than 80 percent of active retail banking customers in Jordan currently use mobile banking, and 60–65 percent of Arab Bank customers are now completing the onboarding process using its mobile app, which is a strong benchmark for the region. “Our customers love what we're doing. It makes a big impact, and they're advocates of our bank and drive us to stretch ourselves to deliver more—and faster—to make their life easier,” says Modave.

As another example, Anthos helped make possible the recently introduced Arabi Pay, an innovative payment app that allows customers to transfer payments by connecting through widely used social apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. They can seamlessly conduct these transactions through a shortcut created on their keyboards, without having to switch to another app. “We have seen customers adopt Arabi Pay not only to transfer money instantly to a friend or family member, but also as a practical means to pay small merchants and contractors for their day-to-day needs,” said Modave.

Google Cloud is now crucial to Arab Bank’s innovation, integrations, and speed to market because it supports key capabilities and programs like DevOps. Above all, the bank knows that the platform is highly secure and can provide an example for improving the bank’s internal security practices. What’s more, says Modave, “Arab Bank has been pleased with Google’s partnership because of its style of doing business, its relentless pace of innovation, and the many offerings and capabilities it delivers.”

“At Arab Bank, we can do development in a completely agile manner. We're working around the clock, and the delivery process has been compressed from a year to about three months from start to finish.”

Eric Modave, Chief Operating Officer, Arab Bank

Responding at digital speed

Since then, the product teams have deployed more than several hundred microservices and front ends in a period of just 12 months. And it has a strong backlog that is being prepared for deployment.

According to Modave, the platform has facilitated container deployments that resulted in an average of two to three deployments per week. Changes can now be quickly introduced with minimal impact to other components. And, he noted, having Apigee as part of the ecosystems assisted Arab Bank in deploying many API-first applications and accelerated the development of an Open Banking API. Google Anthos not only helped in the production, but it also facilitates Arab Bank’s ability to set up their development and test environments on cloud.

In assessing the impact of Anthos, Modave highlighted four main benefits that it brought to Arab Bank:

  • Enabled the setup of the cloud DevTest environment
  • Helped Arab Bank promote work from home while securing the on-premises infrastructure
  • Opened the door to using Google Cloud for many non-critical applications
  • Enabled the organization to compete with the digital disruptors

“I do believe that we have only scratched the surface in our partnership with Google Cloud. The best is still to come.”

Eric Modave, Chief Operating Officer, Arab Bank

Innovating around the clock

Arab Bank says its relationship with Google was key to introducing an “innovative spirit” and shaking up traditional practices. Modave says the biggest cost savings from Anthos has been the elimination of the waste typical in a traditional software development life cycle, which is built on a series of formally defined steps. For example, there would typically be a lengthy phase for scoping out and characterizing business requirements, followed by additional technical development and then testing.

“At Arab Bank, we can now do development in a completely agile manner,” says Modave. “We're working around the clock, and the delivery process has been compressed from close to a year to about three months or less, from start to finish.” He also notes that this is “important for meeting customer expectations and in working successfully with partners that are integrating with our digital platforms.”

Looking to the future, the bank hopes to use technology to engage with SMEs and with consumers whenever and wherever they need services. By segmenting them based on lifestyle needs and other customer attributes, Arab Bank will be better able to offer products and services designed to meet their individual requirements and lifestyle. And it believes that Google Cloud is the right partner to help with those plans. Indeed, according to Modave, Arab Bank sees Google Cloud as a good bet for the long term, both because of its culture and because it is “more technical and more geeky than other possible partners.” He concludes, “I do believe that we have only scratched the surface in our partnership with Google Cloud. The best is still to come.”

Tell us your challenge. We're here to help.

Contact us

About Arab Bank

Arab Bank, headquartered in Amman, Jordan, has more than 600 branches spanning five continents. The bank provides a wide range of financial products and services for individuals, corporations, and other financial institutions. Its products and services cover consumer banking, corporate and institutional banking, and treasury services.

Industries: Financial Services & Insurance
Location: Jordan