Business challenge

ADIB realized that digital banking would revolutionize its interactions with its customers. To take advantage of new opportunities, the bank would need to transform many aspects of its operations.


ADIB is working with IBM on multiple digital transformation initiatives, from mobile app development and marketing-as-a-service, to risk analytics, business process management, and DevOps.



customer acquisition by focusing on new digital services


reduction in lead times for deployment of new mobile applications


innovation by capping software costs through an Enterprise License Agreement (ELA)

Business challenge story

Change on the horizon

Today, the landscape of banking is changing faster than ever before. Mobile banking is becoming a way of life for retail banking customers: instead of visiting a branch or logging into online banking once a month, users are using their smartphones to make payments and manage their investments on a daily, or even hourly basis.

In ADIB’s home market, the United Arab Emirates, this trend is particularly apparent. A recent study revealed that over the past two years, the bank’s customers have made a decisive pivot from internet to mobile banking as their channel of choice. Moreover, of the customers who use ADIB’s mobile apps, 60 percent can be classified as heavy users, often logging in multiple times per day.

Philip King, ADIB Global Head of Retail Banking, comments: “The rise of mobile banking doesn’t just mean we need to focus on building best-in-class mobile apps: it means we need to fundamentally change the way we operate. To win new customers and streamline operations, we need to drive digital transformation across every department.”

For example, if most customers prefer mobile banking for everyday transactions, then the role of the branch network needs to change. Instead of spending time on day-to-day account administration, branch staff can be trained to focus on offering financial advice and selling more advanced financial products.

The bank’s marketing strategy must also respond to the opportunities presented by mobile banking to help its marketing team find new ways to offer the right services to the right customers at the right time.

Back-office processes such as risk analytics, are impacted too. If new mobile applications offer customers new opportunities to invest and trade, what impact does this have on the bank’s risk profile? Digital transformation is necessary to ensure that ADIB can control risks and maintain compliance.

“As ADIB continues to grow its customer-base and develop innovative services, it’s vital that we have the right technology and expertise on our side,” continues Philip King. “That’s why we decided to work with IBM.”

It’s vital that we have the right technology and expertise to fuel our digital transformation. That’s why we decided to work with IBM.

Philip King, Global Head of Retail Banking, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank

Transformation story

End-to-end digital transformation

Prior to embarking on this new phase in its digital transformation journey, ADIB already had a strong relationship with IBM. Its core IT systems are designed as a service-oriented architecture built on IBM middleware, and its risk management teams have been using IBM Algorithmics® software for risk analytics for several years.

ADIB’s positive experience of working with IBM gave the bank the confidence to engage with IBM to deliver several major new strategic initiatives.

For example, to help design best-in-class digital and mobile services, ADIB engaged with IBM Digital Studio to help with iOS and Android mobile development. The IBM team helped the bank adopt Design Thinking and agile development methodologies, and transform its DevOps practices with the IBM MobileFirst™ platform.

ADIB also adopted a marketing-as-a-service solution, built on IBM Watson® Campaign Automation. The service helps the bank accurately target new and existing customers—which is critical in the Emirates, where over 50 banks compete for share in a market of less than 10 million consumers.

Following on from the early successes of these three initiatives, ADIB also decided to work with IBM to transform critical banking applications, and to increase development flexibility by creating a new API management layer. These initiatives would require investment in new IBM middleware, as well as extending the use of existing IBM software.

To make this back-office transformation as agile as possible, ADIB wanted to be able to launch new projects without worrying about the software licensing requirements. IBM therefore proposed an Enterprise License Agreement (ELA), which grants ADIB unlimited use of certain software products.

The ELA also consolidates over 20 separate software contracts into a single agreement, reducing administration costs and providing a streamlined view of operational expenditure over the next three years.

IBM technology enables us to drive digital transformation throughout the business, helping us take advantage of trends such as mobile banking and perfectly align our operations with the needs of a new generation of smart consumers.

Philip King, Global Head of Retail Banking, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank

Results story

Launching new digital services

ADIB’s work with IBM has helped streamline and accelerate the creation of new mobile apps significantly, reducing lead times for app deployment by 40 percent. This helps ADIB get to market quickly with leading-edge mobile capabilities that help it stand out in a competitive market. For example, customers can now access and download account statements, request new checkbooks, and even withdraw cash from an ATM with their smartphone alone.

Meanwhile, the adoption of marketing-as-a-service technologies has helped ADIB gain first-mover advantage for many of these new products and services. In the first year alone, ADIB saw 10 percent of its retail revenue come from campaigns powered by IBM marketing services and tools.

The bank’s back-office transformation projects are also well underway, with the IBM ELA providing the flexibility ADIB needs to redesign its IT architecture while reducing total software costs and administrative expenses.

Philip King concludes: “IBM technology enables us to drive digital transformation throughout the business, helping us take advantage of trends such as mobile banking and perfectly align our operations with the needs of a new generation of smart consumers.”

Logo of Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank

ADIB is a leading UAE bank with more than AED 120 billion (USD 32 billion) in assets. Its 900,000 customers benefit from the third largest distribution network in the UAE with 80 branches and more than 770 ATMs. The bank also offers world-class online, mobile and phone banking services, providing clients with seamless digital access to their accounts 24 hours a day. ADIB provides retail, corporate, business, private banking and wealth management solutions. The bank was established in 1997 and its shares are traded on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX).

Solution components

  • API Connect
  • Financial Risk Withdrawn
  • IBM Global Business Services
  • IBM Watson Campaign Automation

Take the next step

IBM is working with organizations across the financial services industry to use IBM Cloud, cognitive, big data, RegTech and blockchain technology to address their business challenges. Watson Financial Services merges the cognitive capabilities of Watson and the expertise of Promontory Financial Group to help risk and compliance professionals make better informed decisions to manage risk and compliance processes. These processes range from regulatory change management to specific compliance processes, such as anti-money laundering, know your customer, conduct surveillance and stress testing.

To learn more about IBM financial risk and regulatory compliance solutions, visit and follow us on Twitter @IBMFintech