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18 Jun 2009
Interview of Managing Director (CEO) in The Financial Express on June 17, 2009.
EXIM Bank has adopted a thriving drive in implementing an IT platform aiming to serve the country's growing trade and businesses.

"Under a comprehensive strategy of three-phase state of the art automation programme, the Bank, in its first phase, has connected all the branches in Wide Area Network using VSAT and optical fiber connections for providing any-branch-banking services to its valued customers since 2005," managing director of EXIM Bank, Kazi Masihur Rahman told the FE in an interview Tuesday.

He said in second phase, implementation of a centralized Shariah-based Islami core-banking software has been going on since 2007. A fully dedicated team comprising very skilled employees from both business and IT of the bank has been working round the clock for implementing the world renowned Core Banking Software T24 supplied by Switzerland-based IT company Temenos.

In third phase, incorporation of different electronic delivery channels like ATM, POS, Internet banking, mobile banking etc. will be started by the end of this year. After completion of this phase, the bank is expected to become a IT driven banking organization centralizing its information collection, processing, storage and dissemination with a prime objective to provide cost effective banking service for maximizing the customer's satisfaction through state of the art technology.

"The launching of IT-enabled services, the quintessence of a modern Shariah-based economy, is the continuation of our strong zeal to serve the clients," Mr Masihur added.

Besides, the bank will be capable to be at par with the global standards with the completion of the bank's IT projects.

The IT projects will facilitate doing accurate analysis of financial data to identify business opportunities.

"Business Intelligence (BI) and analytics software tools that can turn data piles into relevant and useful information and enable businesses to take better informed business decisions. A centralized core banking software is a must to avail of this opportunity," the MD commented.

He said since the growth in electronic payments will accelerate over the next couple of years and innovative, multi-channel payments will continue to grow on the retail side, a centralized core banking system is a prime need to reap the benefits of such products.

Without a centralized core banking system, Customer Relationship Management or CRM cannot be implemented properly, he further said.

CRM has today evolved into a customer-centric philosophy that must permeate an entire organization. In Banking, CRM is about offering a better proposition to the customer after understanding his or her entire portfolio of investments with the bank.

Customers nowadays acknowledge CRM as an enterprise wide software solution with back end integration rather than being understood as a stand-alone software module for call center or Sales Force automation or selling on the web.

"The team on Temenos T24 has been given training on the software from Chennai, India. Working very hard with the foreign consultants during the last one and half year, this team has successfully migrated our Motijheel branch and Head Office on May 3 last after completing gap analysis, customization of the software and User Acceptance Test (UAT)," the MD said.

" The Motijheel branch and Head Office are now running on T24. This centralized software is capable enough to provide all sorts of electronic banking service to the valued customers through various electronic delivery channels. We are expecting to complete the migration of the remaining branches with this software within the first quarter of the year 2010," Mr Rahman added.

Mr Masihur while giving the thrust on IT, said from the last few years, the banking industry of Bangladesh is going through a major change. The nationalized commercial banks are winding up their branches that incur loss every year and the Private Commercial Banks (PCBs) are expanding their branch network to cover up the whole country.

"These PCBs are primarily focused on three areas: meet customer's service expectations, cut costs, and manage competition. For this reason, these banks are exploring new financial products and service options that would help them grow customers and business, and at the same time retain existing good loyal customers. But any new financial product or service that a bank offers will be intrinsically related to technology. That means, automation is the key thing that banks need to have in place," he said.

This industry is very quickly adopting newer technologies to keep pace with growing competition & growing customer base. It involves a combination of centralized networks, operations, and a core banking application. Automation enables banks to offer round the clock service using lesser manpower.

"Keeping this in view, the bank has already computerized all of its Branches from day one of its opening in the year 1999," the chief executive of the bank added.

EXIM Bank has already launched Visa Islamic Card, first of its kind among the Shariah-based commercial banks in Bangladesh.

"We have launched this unique product in testimony to our strong commitment to serve the clients who believe in shariah based banking," Mr Kazi Masihur Rahman said.

After beginning the journey in 1999 as a conventional bank, EXIM Bank was converted into a full-fledged Shariah-based commercial bank in 2004 and began to launch many user-friendly Islamic banking products