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Mon 13 Jul 2020 11:08 AM

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Saudi banks turn to Twitter, mobile apps amid digital shift

According to statistics from Twitter, 76% of Saudi bank customers used official apps in April, up from 69% during the same time period in 2019

Saudi banks turn to Twitter, mobile apps amid digital shift

The report also found that 68 percent of Saudi banking customers want to see more from banks on Twitter.

Movement restrictions designed to combat the spread of Covid-19 in Saudi Arabia led to a surge in usage of banking mobile applications and overall online engagement, according to recently released statistics from Twitter.

According to statistics from Twitter, 76% of Saudi bank customers used official apps in April, up from 69% during the same time period in 2019.

In an interview with Arabian Business, Benjamin Ampen, the managing director of Twitter MENA, said that the company’s research found that customers are responding better to brands that are making an effort through social media platforms at the moment, in a bid to help their customers amid the pandemic.

“We think that the increased use of apps most likely came as a replacement to the physical presence of the bank. Pre-covid, 31 percent of people were doing in-person interactions,” Ampen said. “There was really a shift from the branch to the app.”

The report also found that 68 percent of Saudi banking customers want to see more from banks on Twitter.

Of these, 70 percent said they hoped to see banks use Twitter more for customer service, while 45 percent they wanted updates on products, 26 percent said they wanted information videos and 11 percent that said they wanted briefing videos.

“Users clearly want to be able to have proper customer service from banks on Twitter. That’s great, as that was one of the original use cases of Twitter for brands,” Ampen added. “For banks to jump on the bandwagon makes a lot of sense.”

Increased engagement

The Twitter statistics also show that 32 percent of banking customers reported increased engagement with their banks across March and April.

“People want to know how to use their finances, and manage their finances. That’s why customer service and information on products [are in demand],” Ampen said.

As an example of a company that has utilized Twitter to good effect during the pandemic, Ampen pointed to Riyad Bank, which launched a new service to allow customers to open a bank account from their home, without the need for a branch.

“By launching this service on Twitter, the bank launched a 200 percent increase in new account openings compared to the average daily rate,” he said. “That’s a good example of relevant product communications.”

In his remarks, Ampen said that he believes that it is too early to say whether the increased use of Twitter and mobile applications will remain elevated even as the world moves on from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Based on what we’ve seen, there was definitely an acceleration of the digitisation of customer service and bank relationships,” he said. “But beyond that, it really depends on the situation in each country.”

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