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Wed 28 Jan 2009 04:00 AM

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The right formula

Burhan Khan, RBS' head of retail banking in the Middle East, discusses the bank's launch of a co-branded credit card with the Williams Formula 1 team.

Burhan Khan, RBS' head of retail banking in the Middle East, discusses the bank's launch of a co-branded credit card with the Williams Formula 1 team.

Why have you chosen to launch a co-branded credit card now?

Our customer research indicates strong demand for affinity-based reward programmes.

Therefore, much of our innovation comes from tailoring our products and services to make them relevant and meaningful to cardholders' increasingly sophisticated needs and wants. We are aiming to connect with mass affluent cardholders in the UAE with the RBS Williams Platinum Card.

They are a growing professional segment of society who desire platinum benefits. The card is also targeted at cardholders who are Formula 1 and motorsport fans and are excited by the arrival of Formula 1 in the UAE.

We recognise that cardholders are looking for additional lifestyle benefits that help them to live their lives to the full, and through our association with the AT&T Williams team we can share the emotion and the passion for Formula 1 with our cardholders.

We have a unique opportunity to provide a targeted card with benefits that they find truly useful and exciting. This card will play a big role throughout 2009 to build excitement for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix next November.

What advantages does your product have over similar offerings?

The RBS Williams Limited Edition Platinum Card is the first and only affinity card with Formula 1 features and benefits in the UAE.

We are able to offer the card through our association with the AT&T Williams team, and no other card in this market has a similar offering of platinum features and benefits. We strive to push innovation and have been first to market for many card products.

The specific Formula 1 Inspired benefits are added benefits to our suite of Platinum Card features and benefits already attached to the card, such as UAE Entertainment Privileges including Free Movies, Wild Wadi and Ski Dubai, in addition to global sport, leisure and travel benefits.

Upon card spend activiation, cardholders will be entered into a lucky draw for a chance to win tickets and travel for one of 16 Formula One Grand Prix throughout the 2009 season - this is called ‘A Race to Remember'.

The top spender for each month throughout the campaign will receive free F1 VIP tickets to the F1 Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi. The year-long contest continues up to the final race in November 2009.

Additionally, 40 cardholders will go into a draw to win tickets to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The top two spenders of the year will also have their VIP tickets upgraded to VVIP tickets and will win an opportunity to go behind the scenes and see the team in action in the garage and in the paddock.

How will you benchmark the card's performance?

We have not really defined our benchmark as such, but amongst the things that we're hoping to acquire is a new customer base as RBS.

What criteria must customers fulfill in order to qualify?

It can be used by anyone who earns AED15,000 per annum. It is also a limited edition, making it accessible until November 2009 only.

What are the unique challenges involved with managing a product of this kind?

Obviously one of the biggest challenges is managing fraud and keeping the integrity of the card and brand, by making sure that it is only available to those who can truly afford to have it. Security is also one of our highest concerns - as is making sure that limits are adhered to and that people don't overspend.

What would you say to people that argue products like these add to worrying levels of personal debt in the region?

Obviously we take this claim very seriously, but it is not our intention that people use our product to add to their debt; merely that they use it for the purpose of diverting their funds not adding to them.

Our view is that people are going to spend anyway but by using our card they can get great benefits.

What is your outlook for the regional economy in 2009?

Although we are operating in a very difficult climate, we expect growth in 2009 and aim to achieve this by staying competitive, maintaining a strong team with clear objectives and being the best in the field.

We also feel it is very important to keep striving for innovation because it sends a positive message to our customers and indeed is beneficial for the market as a whole, creating the stimulus for competition.

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