Nominee profile: National Bank of Kuwait (SME Bank of the Year 2023)

SME Banking

Since its incorporation in 1952 as Kuwait’s first indigenous bank and the first shareholding company in the entire Gulf region, NBK has been known as ‘The Bank You Know and Trust’. Thanks to the recognized excellence of its very stable management along with its unequivocal strategy, consistent profitability, high asset quality and strong capitalization, NBK, throughout the years, succeeded in building an advanced banking institution that offers a full spectrum of innovative and unrivalled financial and investment services and solutions to individual, corporate and institutional clients. NBK enjoys a dominant market share with a large and ever-expanding local and regional clientele. NBK also boasts Kuwait’s largest overseas branch network spanning many of the world financial and business centers.

How would you describe your bank's role in SMEs business journey considering their importance in the economy? 

The National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) is a key player in the economy of Kuwait and has an important role to play in the success of small and medium enterprise (SME) businesses. SMEs are vital for economic growth and job creation. They make up about 95 percent of all businesses, with around 21 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) generated by SMEs creating around 45 percent of private sector jobs in Kuwait. NBK continues take part in the successful growth and development of SMEs in Kuwait. In addition to serving customers in the largest branch and ATM channel in Kuwait, consisting of 68 branches, NBK provides a range of services tailored to the needs of SMEs including: 

  • Basic Banking Services (Online Accounts / Mobile Registration – Employee Salary Portal Setup & Orientation) 
  • Overdraft Transactional Banking Services (Deposit, Withdrawal, Telex Transfer) 
  • POS & PG Subscription / Set Up Rewards Program Setup & Orientation 
  • Certificates: Audit Certificates, IBAN Certificates, Account Statement Certificates
  • Relationship Managers and Officers dedicated to answer queries and service clients with direct access via emails and WhatsApp Business
  • Business Banking Plus segment for Premium SME customers with additional services that include:
    • Dedicated Relationship Manager
    • Preferential / priority access to teller services at branches
    • Concierge Services
    • Special pricing on payment solution
    • Free Cheque books
    • Waiver of fees on selected services
    • Fixed & Term Deposits
    • Cheque Books
  • Business Banking specific cards:
    • Debit Card
    • ATM Card
    • Credit Cards
    • Pre-paid Credit Cards
    • Special purpose cards ( transact with certain merchants / government entities / deposit money yet no balance is revealed for holder)
  • Third Party Financial Services Dedicated Relationship Manager

In addition to the financial services, NBK offers specific packages to SMEs, which include:

  • NBK Mashroey Account: created to support home businesses with tailored financial needs to support the growth of SMEs. Through this account, home businesses can conduct transactions anywhere, anytime using our various services that simplifies payment processes; such as NBK Mobile Banking, NBK Online Banking, POS terminals and payment gateway solutions
  • Business Banking Plus: Provides an exclusive banking experience along with a host of privileges designed to support and develop SMEs. 

Moreover, NBK provides training and development opportunities for small business owners, such as workshop programs and seminars. NBK serves a role in providing existing companies access to expertise and resources they would not otherwise have access to. An example of this was during the CoVID-19 pandemic, NBK focused its efforts to support SMEs to minimize the effect of the pandemic had on businesses. Some of these efforts included:

  • Postponed facility instalments for 6 months
  • Postponed rental fees on POS machine for 3 months 
  • Increased transfer limits through a portal dedicated for SMEs 
  • Increase Quick pay limits 
  • Provide funding customers for salaries and rental expenses supported by the government 

To help entrepreneurs understand their needs and develop strategies for success, NBK provides well rounded services that can help SMEs in there different needs and serve SMEs of different sizes. With the help of these teams, SMEs are able to access professional assistance in various subjects, the 3 separate dedicated teams of experts that include: 

  • Business Banking at NBK provides companies of all sizes an array of products and services related to administering payments, deposits, savings, foreign currency and other custom-tailored financial solutions
  • NBK Capital is a fully owned subsidiary of NBK and provides transactional and prolonged solutions for capital and financial markets, which is considered the investment. The solutions include investment banking solutions, asset management, brokerage and trading solutions and corporate finance solutions
  • Advisory services in the areas of mergers & acquisitions, market research & analytics, structured finance, corporate finance, and syndicated finance. Advisory services are customizable and tailored to meet SMEs requirements.
  • NBK also caters to a select group of business with more complex needs within its Corporate unit (requiring higher facilities) 

NBK Currently serves 20,000 + SME Customers while controlling 60%+ of the market share. Until this day, the total value of all SME loans issued at NBK is 5 Billion KD + over 10+ years with the majority of NBK SME customers banking with NBK as their main bank of dealing.

Why do you think your bank deserves to be awarded the SME Bank of the Year? 

NBK always attains to the needs of SMEs, ever since opening (1952), it has catered to the SME market and continues to develop service offerings and built teams to be more dedicated to service all SME needs. With the largest branch network in Kuwait, which consists of 68 branches, distributed in different areas around Kuwait to ensure the maximum coverage and serve the most customers and a dedicated NBK Business Banking Team available across 10 locations of the branch network of which, three are full-fledged hubs to provide customized and a comprehensive set of products and services to suit Business banking customers. With its range of services and initiatives, the bank provides an important source of support to ensure SMEs are able to reach their full potential in the economy due to obtaining the largest payment acquiring Unit and Business Banking Unit of more than 50+ employees for SMEs.

NBK Currently serves 20,000 + SME Customers while controlling 60%+ of the market share. Until this day, the total value of all SME loans issued at NBK is 5 Billion KD + over 10+ years with the majority of NBK SME customers banking with NBK as their main bank of dealing. The SME Customer base continued to grow 10% annually across the past 5 years, where NBK acquired 60% + of the SME market in Kuwait generating 50 M KD + Annually from SMEs. NBK has always been a leader in the introduction of multiple first in market products and services and accelerating digital transformation through Digital First strategy, while ensuring continued emphasis on customer experience. 

Below are some of the key initiatives implemented recently: 

  • Weyay, the first and only Digital Bank in Kuwait 
  • New card products:
    1. KWT Visa Infinite Credit Card with highest uptake and spend contribution in 2022
    2. Kuwait Airways Visa Credit Card
    3. KPC Visa Infinite Credit Card for employees in oil & gas sector
  • Enabling new generation payment modes such as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay
  • Fitbit and Garmin Pay
  • 24/7 access to the business account, onboard, withdraw and transfer money locally and international, deposit cash across NBK’s presence, in over 150 branches across 15 countries
  • Access to Watani online and mobile banking
  • Branch sales transformation with 18% improved productivity
  • Launch of ITM and multi-currency ATM
  • Mobile app revamp
  • Global access to contact center and transformation to a revenue contribution channel
  • ‘I am NBK’, an employee acknowledgement program to support the NBK brand
  • “Rise”, a first of its kind program dedicated to women empowerment
  • “Tamakan”, a training program for fresh Kuwaiti graduates, supporting the youth population .

With the continuous successful launches of products and services, NBK managed to secure, a vast number of awards with many more to come, some of these awards include: 

–  MENA Retail Banker of the Year 2022 by MEED 
–  MENA Digital Innovator of the Year 2022 by MEED 
–  Best Consumer Digital Bank 2021 and 2022 by Global Finance Awards 
–  Most Innovative Digital Bank 2021 and 2022 by Global Finance Awards 
–  Best Retail Bank in Kuwait 2021 and 2022 by Retail Banker International 
–  Best Bank for Digital Solutions 2022 by Euromoney 

NBK serves as a backbone in Kuwait’s SME sector, by providing financial aid to help entrepreneurial initiatives grow and reach success. Not only does NBK focus on the financial services when serving their SME clients, they also demonstrate a commitment to the environment by supporting SMEs. As part of their 2020 ESG strategy, the bank has taken several steps to in responsible banking and investing in the community by focusing on promoting economic prosperity and serving as a model by undertaking the following initiatives as a priority:

  • Empower communities to achieve financial independence, confidence and security
  • Continued and enhanced focus to providing optimal customer experience and service excellence
  • Support national development
  • Plans to promote and nurture local talent
  • Expand our community investment efforts for optimal impact
  • Support equitable community and economic development 

Also, demonstrating an exemplary commitment to the welfare of those in need, through a wide variety of initiatives and charitable donations. For example, they have supported education, healthcare, and the eradication of poverty in a number of countries, while they have also donated to organizations that advocate sustainable development of Kuwait. NBK conducted a research under its Research & Development arm “Insight” to enhance NBK penetration and presence within the Business Banking segment. 

For these reasons, amongst many others, the National Bank of Kuwait is an ideal candidate for the SME Bank of the Year Award. Its dedication to innovation and customer service, its commitment to the environment, and its philanthropic initiatives demonstrate that NBK is the perfect choice for this honor. 

Briefly describe, what are top 3 projects/achievements delivered by your bank in the last 18 months for SME customers? 

The last 18 months have been fruitful in NBK with initiatives and launches that cater to SMEs where a set of products and services are provided that suits small to medium businesses (SMEs) such as WhatsApp Business service that provides a virtual Relationship manager to elevate Business banking Managers/Officers to be closer to their customers and communicate with them as per their convenience. Along with, establishing successful strategic partnerships to ensure seamless services offered to SMEs, which includes alliances with Fintechs to provide payment solutions at a discounted rate, advisory & book keeping services with discounted solutions; and utilizing NBK SMEs Customer base in any offering or campaign to promote NBK products or client servicing and assisting SMEs in HR services. As part of the bank’s vision to support small and medium enterprises presence in the local market, NBK held a vast number of events that were held for Business banking customers such as Khairan square event food truck to promote their customers business and Kuwaiti Motor Show (Road Rush) 

NBK strives to empower all stakeholders, drive a positive impact on society, and deliver superior returns to shareholders. These top three first market projects are considered a milestone in the banking sector to provide a better service for its SME customers. These top 3 projects include: 

  1. Business Banking Plus Account: An exclusive banking experience along with a host of privileges, designed to support and develop businesses through designated relationship managers. NBK dedicated a specialized team of highly qualified Relationship Managers/Officers, who are present to serve our customers in 9 different locations across NBK chain of branches, preferential access to teller services at branches, concierge services, special pricing on payment solutions, free check book and complementary premium package for business owners 
  2. The latest launch of “Mashroey” Account: It translates to my project in Arabic is considered a milestone in the Business Banking market, which supports local home businesses where account holders can conduct transactions, anywhere, anytime using various services that simplifies the payment processes through the Mobile Application, website, POS terminals and payment gateway solutions. Business Banking customers participated in Kuwait
  3. Business Banking Titanium Credit Card: Provides the flexibility to grow the business, with reward points that can be redeemed based on spending of Business Banking customers


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