Dubai Holding has announced plans to invest Dhs1bn ($272.2m) over the next five years to launch an SME-focussed digital bank in the UAE.
The bank will debut its first products in 2019 and has plans to expand across the Middle East and North Africa, according to Dubai Media Office.
It will be among the first purely digital institutions in the UAE to serve the small and medium enterprise and mid-size corporate segment.
Dubai Holding, which manages a broad range of Dubai’s assets from hotelier Jumeirah to Dubai Properties and Emirates International Telecommunications (Du), said the launch was motivated by the UAE’s high smartphone penetration rate.
It plans to offer bespoke banking services, a customer loyalty programme and “state-of-the-art loan and deposit offerings” for SMEs.
“We plan to address key SME pain points through transparent reporting across all SME accounts, cash management platform linked to receivables, payroll and payments,” Dubai Holding said.
The organisation’s chairman Abdulla Al Habbai said the digital bank would allow individuals and businesses to leverage new opportunities.
Among the goals of the institution are to reduce the UAE economy’s reliance on cash and provide new data and insights on customers and businesses.
The bank’s first products are expected to debut in 2019.
Digital banking is becoming increasingly popular across the Gulf region with several lenders including Dubai bank Emirates NBD now offering online-only accounts.
Last month, Bahrain’s Gulf International Bank (GIB) launched what was claimed to be the region’s first Shariah-compliant digital banking service.