GREATER EMPHASIS ON CONSUMER BANKING PRODUCTS

Expected to benefit MCB as well as its customers

By SHABBIR H. KAZMI
Jan 21 - 27, 2002

Perpetuating enhanced level of value creation, for all the stakeholders, is the basis of the long-term strategic focus of Muslim Commercial Bank (MCB). This envisages a multi-pronged approach wherein a series of initiatives have been taken to ensure sustained growth in profitability. These include prudent risk management, introduction of competitively priced new products and services for customers' retention. In line with MCB's focus to create and manage value, the bank's emphasis on new products has been yielding positive results. With products such as Rupee Traveller Cheques, ATMs, funds transfer facility via ATMs, Mobile Banking, various asset/liability products and emphasis on customer services, the bank is striving to cater to the financial requirements of its growing and diversified customer base.

To ensure a more focused approach in managing the diversified customer segments three business groups were formed in year 1999. Corporate and Investment Banking Group continues to expand and contribute to increasing the market share in the top tier local companies and multinational corporations. The result of this group's targeted efforts is reflected in the robust growth in advances.

Commercial Banking Group focuses trading and middle market customers primarily for building risk asset and trade related business. The bank has done well especially in seasonal financing where the historic recovery trends have been excellent. Given the intense competition and adverse macro variables, the effort have been yielding results in the shape of growing deposits and managing costs.

Consumer Banking Group focuses on consumer based lending products, high networth individuals and technology based products. The value-added products being rolled out, include consumer lending products and technology based, competitively prices products and services like Debit card, Payment Gateway and other e-business initiatives.

An Islamic banking Unit has been formed. This unit is reviewing various financial products based on Sharia with a view to roll out products once internal procedural and external regulatory aspects are firmed up. The first Morabaha facility was extended in November last year subsequent to opening of letter of credit for import of a ship for breaking.

On technology front efforts are being made to increase the number of on-line branches and ATMs by adding new cities in the network. MCB has been able to automate 650 out of 1000 branches which is a major achievement. Currently 170 branches are online in 15 cities. MCB is also investing in ATMs heavily and the number has increased to 104 from 74 last year.

The launch of MNET (Muslim Commercial Bank Network for Electronic Transactions) offers an electronic platform for enhanced network accessibility and secure on-line transactions. This also provides customers of banks connected to MNET access to the largest combined network of ATMs conveniently located across the country and over 600,000 ATMs globally through Mastercard Cirrus.

Over the years MCB has been able to retain its undisputed leadership in Rupee Travellers Cheques. Sales of these cheques grew by 55 per cent in the year 2000 and continued to reflect meteoric growth in year 2001. With the increase in range of denominations backed by robust tele-verification system ensuring improved risk management, MCB has clearly emerged to be the market leader. These cheques are sold through designated branches of MCB as well as four other banks in Pakistan, ABN Amro Bank, Bank AL Habib, Faysal Bank and PICIC Commercial Bank.

MCB launched its house financing scheme Pyara Ghar in September last year. The scheme aims at catering three different needs namely: Home purchase, Home renovation and Home construction. The differentiation features on this scheme from competition is much better pricing and MCB's large branch network, making it very convenient for customers to approach. Initially, the scheme was offered only in Karachi with the plans to extend it to other cities in phases.

Yet another attractive scheme is MCB CarCash with 16 per cent per annum financial charges, by far the lowest in the market today. It has a simple qualification criteria and enjoys extensive support through a wide network of car dealers and MCB's branch network. MCB offers financing facility starting from Rs 150,000 for individuals. Concurrently the bank has launched lease financing for small to large size institutions.

The construction of the 27-story MCB Tower, the country's tallest building, is progressing on schedule. Apart from cost and work efficiencies that will accrue from all departments housed under one roof, this venture signifies the commitment of the bank to Pakistan.

All the above mentioned products and services are aimed at making the bank the most preferred provider of quality financial and asset building products and services. These products and services are widely and easily accessible for the bank's customer base of over six million.