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Joseph Abraham

QATAR - Finance

Joseph Abraham

Group CEO, Commercial Bank of Qatar


Joseph Abraham has extensive banking experience across both developed and emerging markets. Prior to joining Commercial Bank in 2016, he was CEO of ANZ Indonesia based in Jakarta from 2008 onward. Prior to ANZ, he was with Standard Chartered Bank where he served in a number of roles including chief of staff to the global head of client relationships, wholesale banking; head of strategy and product management, North East Asia; and managing director and CEO, Ghana. He holds an MBA from Stanford Business School.

Given the need to provide ever-more convenient banking and payment options in Qatar ahead of the World Cup, Commercial Bank has been steadily working on providing newer and better features.

What is the strategic importance of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investments for an economy like Qatar?

ESG issues in all their aspects will become increasingly important for countries and businesses across all sectors. Qatar is uniquely positioned because the economy has the capacity to be flexible. Qatar is showing its commitment to sustainability through different ways, as evidenced by HH The Emir attending COP26 and the establishment of the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change. On another note, the new name of Qatar Energy shows an emphasis from Qatar on ESG at all levels. ESG is not just a matter of the environment, as it entails social and governance factors. Companies listed on the Qatar Stock Exchange (QSE) will be asked to optimize their ESG credentials. The same is happening in the government. Consequently, the Qatari economy is well positioned to not only further ESG, but also make a stronger sustainable transition. Regarding the banking sector, the carbon financial commitment is drawing considerable attention at the moment. Qatar has the fiscal wherewithal and inclination to make all this happen to increase the potential for success on this front.

What have been the recent major digitalization advancements by Commercial Bank?

Commercial Bank embarked on a steady digitalization journey five years ago and has since then adopted a highly creative approach to it. The future of banking lies at the intersection of technology, operations, and the client interface. The ability to respond quickly and be innovative in delivering client-centric offerings will be important, particularly as we face greater competition from sectors such as fintech. About 10 years ago, we had outsourced our operations and technology to an offshore third-party provider. However, given the importance of technology to delivering client experience and innovation, we created our own in-house subsidiary Commercial Bank Innovation Services to house or tech and operations. We can now apply technology to all our operations processes to improve risk, straight-through processing, speed, and ultimately the customer experience. Clients increasingly want to do everything seamlessly and easily without visiting a branch, so our aim is to make everything available on a mobile app. In this regard, Commercial Bank was the first bank in Qatar to introduce certain key features. For example, our clients can print off their credit cards at self-service machines instead of waiting for mail delivery. Additionally, we have focused attention to the payment ecosystem, which in the lead up to the FIFA World Cup must become entirely cashless. Commercial Bank came out with CB Pay, a convenient mechanism enabling merchants to receive payments through QR codes without the need for POS machines. In addition, our relationship management is being digitalized through the creation of virtual video relationship managers. On a video call, clients are also able to transact with due regard to security by using voice and facial biometrics so that documents can be signed securely and other transactions be done remotely improving both security and the client experience.

How has Commercial Bank been involved in the FIFA-related projects in Qatar?

In terms of direct contribution to the FIFA World Cup, there are the stadiums, for one of which Commercial Bank has been financing major contractors. The same is the case for the roadworks being built, for which we have again contributed through our core business. Meanwhile, the hotel landscape of Qatar has completely changed, and Commercial Bank has financed many of these projects. More widely, the 2022 FIFA World Cup particularly in a post COVID-19 world will need to be completely cashless. We are one of the largest providers of tap-and-pay, and our terminals are located widely at merchants. We are working with transport authorities, including taxis, to make them cashless. We are working closely with all the authorities to contribute to the cashless environment so no one entering Qatar has to carry or withdraw cash.



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