UAE banks look to provide business community platforms for SMEs
94 percent of businesses in the UAE are SMEs. However, they face a number of struggles, from paperwork and licensing, to finding the right solution providers. Plus, without a lot of resources to spend on marketing, they aren’t always visible on search engines or social media.
Moreover, while business groups that have regular meetings and LinkedIn are good platforms to network and get to know businessmen providing other solutions, there are still a few barriers to finding potential clients and the right service providers. This is what banks in the UAE are looking to resolve through digital community platforms.
SMEsouk by RAKBANK
RAKBANK recently launched SMEsouk, an online community platform for SMEs, that has been built to address the pain points that still exist in the system. The platform supports business owners in finding non-banking value-added services such as licensing, accounting, insurance, trade requirements, and more.
On the other hand, as all these solution providers are on the same platform, it also provides SMEs a large pool of potential clients.
The platform, as per the statement, would also give the bank’s customers to a platform to read news and insights in the business world, as well as tips and ideas, much like what social media provides.
Dhiraj Kunwar, Managing Director of Business Banking at RAKBANK, said in a statement, “Our Business Banking customers may also take advantage of the preferential terms that our partners will offer them."
‘For SMEs by SMEs’ platform by National Bank of Fujairah
At the end of October, the National Bank of Fujairah (NBF) announced that it “is building a dedicated banking platform for Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) in the UAE” that will provide business owners access to “comprehensive financial and business services and solutions.”
The exclusive digital platform for NBF customers will not only benefit SME entrepreneurs, but also the bank to gain first hand insights into their needs.
The digital platform positioned as ‘For SMEs by SMEs’ is expected to give entrepreneurs access to banking services along with a space to “find and interact with peers, and create ideas that can address specific business challenges.”
Given that SMEs in the UAE are growing rapidly, the platform will serve as a digital space for SMEs’ to interact with peers, share know-how and gain access to beneficial resources on government policies.Devid Jegerson, Head of Customer Experience and Platform Development
He further said in a statement, “Our goal is to build a unique SME community and banking platform, and the only way to do this is to really understand SME needs and create this platform together. Few experiments have been done in different regions and segments of the industry. This is the first time that the SME community will be engaged in a call to action to co-create the next generation digital SME platform, while working together with a financial institution. Our long-term vision is for the platform to evolve over time and to set a new benchmark in the way SME’s in the UAE interact and do business.”
SMEs are the backbone of the UAE economy. We’ve seen the government launch multiple initiatives to ease doing business, and now we are seeing banks step into the game to provide more value-added services that can increase their competitiveness.
What’s interesting to note, is that while tech giants from Silicon Valley are entering the FinTech space to grow their business, RAKBANK and NBF in the UAE are looking to provide a niche digital platform for SME owners to network and find service providers amongst other benefits.