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Mon 5 Jul 2010 12:09 PM

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All HSBC customers in UAE to have debit cards this year

CEO Abdulfattah Sharaf also says improvements soon on phone banking services.

All HSBC customers in UAE to have debit cards this year
CARD PLEDGE: Abdulfattah Sharaf, the UAE CEO of HSBC. (ITP Images)

Delays in providing all HSBC customers in the UAE with debit cards are due to the difficulty of distributing them securely, the bank’s top official in the country has told Arabian Business.

“The number of clients we have, we are doing it through phases. I can’t just mail you the card through the post. I have to send it through a courier. It takes time. The target is for all UAE customers to have debit cards by the end of 2010,” Abdulfattah Sharaf, the UAE CEO of HSBC said in an interview.

He said HSBC has 300,000 personal banking clients in the country, and around 21,000 on the corporate banking side.

Sharaf said the bank had been able to improve the service it offered clients over the last two years as the change in financial conditions had made it easier to attract staff.

“What we have done is invest in the people, invest in the front office, the back office. In 2007 it was the boom, it was difficult to get people, it was difficult to attract them. In 2008 and 2009, it was a better time to attract people. So change has happened," he said.

"We invested in our technology. I use the online banking, and most of the time I don’t visit any of the branches. I make sure that (online banking) it is up to the standard with which our customers are happy,” he added.

Sharaf said like all international banks in the country, HSBC was frustrated by Central Bank regulations limiting the number of branches non-local banks are allowed to operate.

“Let me be frank, any bank today here, with a big number of customers and a small number of branches, we are restricted by the Central Bank to have only eight branches, like all foreign banks. You can have customer service units, but you cannot do banking transactions there. This is a difficulty… I have been talking to them and asking them to give us more branches. Any international bank here wants more branches,” he said.

Sharaf said the bank’s customers in the UAE could soon expect to notice improvements in the phone banking service – such as Arabic speaking staff being made available to answer the queries of Arab customers.

“Customers here, they really like to bank with HSBC. Recently we had a (corporate) customer event, and most of them were saying they had been with HSBC for 25 years or more and they were very happy with us for supporting them and helping them,” he said.

Last year, HSBC Middle East saw its profits fall from $1.7bn in 2008 to $455m. The bank will shortly announce its results for H1, 2010.

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Ian 10 years ago

Quote "I make sure that (online banking) it is up to the standard with which our customers are happy,” he added." Then Sir you are failing. More often than not the site just doesn't work and when it does it is extremely slow. once you are in the content is fine - but getting in is so often a struggle. Let's see what other AB Readers think about HSBC.

Ex-Expat 10 years ago

So the the central bank is blocking the number of branches of international banks? My god, how bad can it get. All the blabla about being an international market place and so. The reality: Narrow minded and out dated thinking of the stone age. Singapore and HK lead the way for business thinking, thats where the real thing is happening.

Bart Simpson 10 years ago

This is the best joke I have heard in 10 years of banking with this so-called HSBC bank. They have a long long long way to go before they can be anywhere near HSBC UK (First Direct) and the USA. Customer service does not mean only being able to answer the phones politely, it means that HSBC should have its staff trained in responding to correspondence from its customers, and not leave them hanging for minimum of 2-3 weeks. I am still laughing so much at this.

Alejandro 10 years ago

I read this to my amaze, even Nicaragua has an installed system... you guys seem to be like 4th world countries on some issues, great buildings, lots of money, gold plated cars, and so behind on so many other issues...

girish kulkarni 10 years ago

HSBC's On Line Banking is not at all up to the standards. Their security system is been hacked since last couple of years. My account was hacked on 28th and 30th June 2010. The people hacked my account has accounts in Standard Chartered Bank. AED 69,000 was transfered without my knowledge. They should have a tight security for internet online banking and punish those who hack their web site consistently. First improve your on line security Mr Saraf then your customers would be happy otherwise they would prefer other "Local Banks".

EXPAT 10 years ago

HSBC has the distinction of being the only BANK in the UAE which does not issue a DEBIT CARD !

Sam 10 years ago

HSBC CS agents on the phone are usually very nice, but extremely crippled [service wise]. The only thing they tell you is your account history and maybe, request a new cheque book. Other than that, they can't be of real use and "You have to visit the branch" is by far the default answer to most of my questions/queries on HSBC's phone banking. And they only have 2 of them. Go figure. And due to regulation, those HSBC booths you see at malls are as useless as their phone/online service is. Staff there are nice too.. only addition is that they can give you forms to fill and tell you "you have to visit the branch" in person. For the past 3 years, my so-called "status" account has had 5 different people managing it. Back in the early days, I had one guy managing it for 6 years, and he was amazing. Things went downward after he was moved to another job.. I cancelled my card, I don't use any of their services and i have 1 last payment to make this month before i get HSBC out of my life, once and for all.

AD 10 years ago

what are you talking about... HSBC is a UK bank !!!! what system are we behind in ! pls advise us

Marc 10 years ago

We have several corporate accounts with HSBC and it is a hassle to deal with them: You can't reach them, they loose documents, usual answer you get from their phone banking is "go to the branch" and their staff at the branch is badly trained and doesn't complete a task properly, so they have to ask you to come back to the branch to finish it. We had money sent to an EUR account put on an AED account, account opening takes at least 2 weeks and they only assign relationship managers, when you take a loan. I honestly wonder, who is 25 years with HSBC and is "very happy" with their service.

Disgruntled HSBC Banker 10 years ago

I have been a customer of HSBC for the past 27 years and cannot tell anyone just how dissatisfied with their service over the past two years. If I took as long to write one letter and get it signed off, as HSBC Bank take, business would have been lost and I for sure would no longer have a job. Wake up and smell the roses HSBC and get your staff fully trained before setting them free on the customers. You have a very long way to go.