Having operated in the banking sphere for over three decades, Ahmed Abdelaal is no stranger to volatile trends and varying iterations of best banking practices. As the Group Chief Executive Officer at Mashreq,  one of the long-standing banking institutions in the Middle East, Mr. Abdelaal has consistently formulated intricate banking solutions for a diverse client base.

Ahmed Abdelaal provided insight into Mashreq’s commitment to the adoption of emerging technologies in a 2023 Q&A session with Global Finance Magazine. When asked about the impact of emerging technologies on the banking operations of Mashreq,  Mr. Abdelaal noted that the bank is pivoting to a more experiential service delivery that transcends the mere yielding of products and resources. He went on to disclose that Mashreq has been an active player in the banking as a system (BaaS) model in recent years. This state of affairs has facilitated Mashreq’s ideation of distinctive service delivery platforms.

For more context, BaaS is an indirect model which involves middlemen rendering banking services. The ‘middlemen’ status of BaaS providers stems from their typical practice of liaising with traditional banks, with the latter yielding the anchor service and the former interacting directly with end users. This model enables corporations to blur the lines which define their status as fintech establishments or otherwise. 

Mr. Abdelaal oversaw Mashreq’s introduction of the first blockchain data exchange platform geared towards businesses operating digital bank accounts. This service is the first of its kind in the Middle East and North Africa region. The move is a testament to the changing financial terrain partly characterised by decentralised finance. With this data exchange platform, business owners can be assured of more secure and identifiable transactions. Conversely, Mr. Abdelaal has also overseen Mashreq’s introduction of an application programming interface (API) portal for the benefit of end users seeking to consolidate their digital activities.

Consequently, Mashreq’s latest strides pertaining to BaaS and big data reflect Mr. Abdelaal’s astute leadership and experience. As he also noted in the Q&A session with Global Finance Magazine, the expansion of the banking ecosystem is paramount in ensuring that clients have the necessary facilities to record progress. Accordingly, any expansion in contemporary times cannot exclude the digital terrain and its attendant technologies. Looking ahead, Mr. Abdelaal further noted that there is a present transition to a dispensation where innovation and vivid consumer experiences in wholesale and retail banking would be the order of the day.

Mr. Abdelaal partly attributed its immense 2022 profits, an estimated $1 billion, to Mashreq’s embracing digital solutions in its service delivery. Additionally, Mr. Abdelaal cited the bank’s risk management practices as also being influential to its year-end profits. Mr. Abdelaal also confirmed Mashreq’s plans to expand to parts of Asia, with Pakistan as the flagship base. He noted that Mashreq is on the verge of commencing digital banking operations in Pakistan, coupled with a commitment to digitising the retail and payments spheres, among others. Undoubtedly, Mashreq Bank is bound to break more digital barriers under Ahmed Abdelaal’s leadership. 

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