Standard Chartered Bank offers the widest menu

Feb 23 - 29, 2004

Standard Chartered Bank has been present in the South Asia and Middle East for more than 150 years and still embarking on aggressive strategies for the market. The Bank entered into credit card business in Pakistan in 1996-97. At present the Standard Chartered credit cards offer the widest menu. Some of these facilities are unique and being introduced for the first time in Pakistan. Following are the excerpts from an exclusive interview with Abid Sattar, Head of Consumer Banking.

Credit cards are primarily used as convenient payment products and at times a credit facility for short term needs. Standard Chartered's card business began in Pakistan during 1996-97 and has consistently grown during the last six years. When we started the credit card business, it was a relatively easy decision as we had a network of 14 branches. We had a big customer base and we were able to attract credit card customers. For us, the credit card is not only plastic money but a means for achieving convenience and availability. The Credit Card is only a convenience when a bank has effective back up system. The card holder should know and should be confident that his Credit Card quarries/complaints will be dealt effectively and efficiently any time.

Standard Chartered credit cards today are the leading cards in Pakistan. Offering both Visa and Master cards, we're fast becoming the preferred choice for card members across the country. This success has been achieved through innovative product launches designed specially to cater to ever-changing customer needs. Currently, we have over 175,000 cards making us the top issuer of cards in the country. During 2003, the Bank extended its credit card offering by launching ASAAN Installment, Easy Credit and PIA co-brand cards to its portfolio.

Standard Chartered has always given topmost priority to quality service and customer satisfaction. As such, we have invested heavily in an innovative, top-of-the-line 24-hour call center and well equipped, customer friendly Customer Care Centers across Pakistan. For customer convenience, we have also introduced e-statement facility. We are now accessible from anywhere in the world via our online help line. We are additionally supported through our vast network of 20 branches and 27 ATMs across Pakistan and our Head Office in Dubai continues to provide us with state-of-the-art communication and risk management capabilities.

Standard Chartered has made substantial investments in infrastructure, evident from our latest offerings in 2003: our newly built financial spas (model branch, first of its kind in the Middle East and South Asia) and innovative customer service platforms e.g. ATMs, e-statements, call centers, etc. Furthermore, we continue to make regular investments in our card processing systems, call center capabilities, collection network systems and risk management/fraud control mechanisms.

We will be looking at cost-efficient and convenient financial solutions for customers such as l-banking which is again a futuristic approach to doing business. We are planning more investments in state-of-the-art technology and launching new alternative channels of distribution. We are also looking at introducing innovative and unique products and services to cater to the evolving needs of our customers.

Consumer banking's future in Pakistan is very bright with an increasing number of financial institutions launching new, more innovative products and services in order to cater to the ever-changing financial needs of consumers. Today, Pakistan's Consumer Banking market can be compared to that of developed markets, in terms of product menus and competitive pricing benefits. Also, increasing Consumer Finance lending in the shape of Credit Cards, Auto Loans, Mortgages, etc. Pakistan has a huge, unexploited Consumer Banking business. There lies a huge potential in consumer lending, customer service and new investment products due to low interest rates.

Standard Chartered Bank Pakistan has a great portfolio of products and services, supported by sound technology platform and a dynamic professional sales and service team. We provide a range of high quality retail and banking products with competitive rates and benefits. On the banking side, we have leading cash management, global markets and trade finance products for our corporate clients. We continue to focus our priorities on meeting the financial services needs of our customers.