Boubyan Bank: Driving Digital Banking in the Middle East

By William Barnett, Robert Siegel, Laila AlJasem
2020 | Case No. SM338 | Length 16 pgs.

Boubyan Bank in 2009 was Kuwait’s smallest bank, with 10 branches located in commercial areas—and an increasing number of non-performing loans as the fallout from the 2008 global financial crisis continued. The case study tracks what happened following the bank’s acquisition by the National Bank of Kuwait, a conventional bank that looked to bring in an Islamic bank to service customers who needed products and services structured to adhere to principles of Sharia law, which forbade charging and receiving interest.

Boubyan Bank’s new leadership team focused initially on cleaning up the balance sheet and rebuilding the bank’s foundations. Its next steps would include exploring ambitious opportunities to sustain growth by tapping into the mobile finance market with digital wallet, card-less ATM withdrawals, and other innovative products that attracted tech-savvy millennials. By 2020, Boubyan Bank had become a digital leader, serving Kuwait’s low-income underbanked population as well as high-end corporate clients with a wide range of products and services—and consistently received the highest level of customer satisfaction across banks in Kuwait. Now that it had become Kuwait’s third-largest bank, what would be its next moves, in Kuwait and beyond?

Learning Objective

This case is designed to introduce strategic decision making in banking and finance, and the fierce competition and pace of innovation in digital financial services. Students also discuss the situation in the case to understand Islamic banking, and Boubyan’s strategy of appealing to customers willing to bank with an Islamic bank, but not at the expense of services, products, and innovation.
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