Our Interview with Rehan Khan

How has The Commercial Bank of Qatar dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges it’s presented you with?

Commercial Bank’s comprehensive solutions in transaction banking have always aimed to deliver a unique banking experience through our strong focus on digital channels for payments, collections, trade and liquidity management. These services took on added significance in the past two years as Qatar navigated COVID-19. Commercial Bank was well-positioned to meet customer needs, ensure safety with minimal disruption and comply with local regulations.

To serve Qatar’s population, the Bank has maintained a relatively constant strategic branch presence whilst reducing overall costs. Branches have been positioned in strategically important locations with high footfall and re-designed to be more compact and economical to operate. Commercial Bank also deploys Premium and Smart branch designs to target specific customer audiences.

As branches temporarily closed during local lockdowns, the Bank moved swiftly to:

  • empower remote banking take-up with short video guides to the Bank’s digital channels.
  • fast-track the enrolment process to support client migration to digital channels.
  • expand the availability and scope of ATMs accepting cheques and cash.
  • supply dedicated tracking apps (Trade Tracker/Swift GPI) for remote tracking of trade and cash transactions – removing multiple touch-points and improving client experience.
  • introduce online appointment system, Qmatic Web Appointments, to reduce crowding and waiting time at open branches.

Across transaction and retail clients, CBQ’s award-winning 60-second remittance offering has proved a safe and convenient alternative to money-transfer houses for customers to remit funds during lockdown. The popularity of the Bank’s mobile app and internet banking has also enabled CBQ to capture a large share of international remittances, again helping reduce the handling of physical cash. Since its launch in 2017, the number of transactions has grown 13 times, now exceeding 7 million international transfers.

Commercial Bank provides a range of standard and structured trade products based on our clients’ needs. During 2020, and even still throughout 2021, CBQ made concerted efforts to provide even more convenient, safer remote channels such as our Cash Deposit Card, Corporate Card, Remote Cheque Deposit, CIB, Corporate Mobile Banking, POS, CB Pay and more.

We also became the first local bank in Qatar to offer a corporate mobile solution in the form of our Corporate Mobile Banking App. Coupled with an aggressive push to migrate customers to digital channels, this has triggered a surge in digital payments routed through remote channels, resulting in higher balances and increased fee income.

By helping customers move to these digital channels, we have offered faster turnarounds alongside lower costs and branch involvement – a win-win for both customers and the Bank.

What are the lessons this turbulent time has taught you?

We have experienced a rapid change in customer behaviour and this presented us with a big opportunity because customers were forced to use mobile banking and our mobile app for their transactions, as well as cash-deposit machines; and once they tried the digital way, they found it was actually quite simple and intuitive.

We also saw a change in relationship management. As customers do more and more of their transactions online, their interaction with the bank became more advisory.

We have also realised the ever-increasing importance of analysing how customers interact with us to see where we can address a need and also help change behaviours to the benefit of the customer.

Tell us a little bit about this award and what it means to you.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, I think the role of the CFO has expanded to become one that focuses on asking the right questions and providing the right insights when it comes to investment and strategic value in a way that grants the company a significant advantage over the competition.

I think an ability to recognise talent is crucial for any CFO. Successful CFOs invest a great deal of their time in recruiting, meeting personally with team members at a variety of levels within the function, and making sure people recognise that the company is committed to their success. That’s because the calibre of the finance staff is crucial to the success of the company.

As confirmed by the recent COVID-19 pandemic, a CFO should remain flexible and open-minded. An ability to adapt can make or break the CFO of any company.

The most effective CFOs use their influence to help make the organisation more resilient in the face of shifts and disruptions and able to embrace change instead of avoiding it.

It goes without saying that integrity should be one of the main values and at the core of a CFO’s ethical principles. The CFO should act as the company’s conscience, ensuring that all endeavours are aligned with the goal to create values for the company and that resources are being invested in a way that serves the interest of the company.

Receiving the CFO Award from Finance Monthly Magazine, for the second year in a row, is an achievement that I take great pride in. But above all, I am proud of my incredible team and being a member of Commercial Bank’s family. This year, we have been faced with several challenges. However, thanks to our strategic plan and innovative approach, we have been able to overcome these challenges successfully by delivering the best financial and digital services to our valued customers.


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