The digital maturity of Islamic banking in Tunisia: Survey findings Part 3

In Tunisia, there are  3  dominant Islamic banks which are the ancient one Al Baraka,  Wifak bank, and Zitouna.  They offer funds under Islamic principles. Like Ijara, Murabaha, Moucharaka…   which are based on equity participation and ethical investment.    

The debtor is supposed to give the bank shares of the profit or revenues instead of paying interest. Theoretically, it seems fair and ethical. but many participants who tried the Islamic funding said that they had some pain points in this concept and over. 

The bank’s digital presence 

 Web Interface 

The three banks in Tunisia do have websites, In terms of functionalities, they showcase the banks’ services, Islamic jargon explanation, currency converter online. and a User login to create an account if you are a customer.

That’s cool. but in terms of technical maturity and visuals. They lack the artistic yet appealing figures to attract users to deal with that bank or at least encourage him to discover its funding model. 

On the other handIslamic Financial Institutions abroad are increasingly investing in digital platforms and innovative technology especially in the GCC,

For example, Kuwait Finance House is rated as the best and biggest Islamic bank in the world. This bank offers smart services and funding tools that increasingly support customer expectations. 

The customers in this bank can apply for a loan online, deposit a cheque by uploading a picture, and furthermore. 

Islamic banks in Tunisia need to refresh their business to be competitive and add value for users who chose to deal with an Islamic bank rather than a conventional one. Considering the Technology adaptation which has become a key rating standard.    

‘’The winners of Global Finance’s Islamic Finance Awards 2019 are institutions that have focused on product innovation supported by technology and service—and applied it successfully to generate good financial performance.’’  Global Finance Magazine. 

Islamic Banks in the world ( Indonesia, Malaysia, Turkey, Singapore, GCC…) are getting advantages from the increasing demand for Halal product and that refers to the increase of the Muslim population around the globe and high digital penetration in the global financial landscape. 

From the commercial point of view, Islamic funding and Islamic business model are getting a higher reputation as they proved their usability and safety for the economy.

Islamic banks in Tunisia need to hug the technology advantages and social claims for the “HALAL’’ concept. Taking into consideration that the main criteria that will design the future Banking services are highly based on the size of the staff, customer service, risk management, products and services variety, execution skills, and smart use of technology.

Community Management 

The actual Islamic banks do have social media channels where they contact their community. However, when we dig into these pages we noticed a clear difference in dealing with the audience.

Or they don’t use the relevant social channel to address the right targets. In some situations, the tone of voice seems non-persuasive and doesn’t raise the real needs and expectations of the prospect.

The use of social media for these banks is limited to the use of Facebook, messenger bots, youtube, and twitter but some of them don’t have a strategy. 

They don’t use these platforms in regard to their type of audiences or to the marketing facilities offered by these channels. Instead, they use them to share the same content with the same frequency. They use them for branding purposes but without oriented strategy or goals. 

For the online assistance Islamic banks and major banks in Tunisia, used to answer with automatic or canned responses. Or just put a link for the customer once he asked about a particular service.

These practices are unacceptable in the digital world where all devices and services are user-centric and looking for better UX with more customization

Affiliate program: uncompleted mission 

For marketing purposes and to widen the brand popularity some Islamic Banks use the affiliate program as a channel to forward their services for more targets. 

The issue with this process is the inability to continue the next steps or using the information related to the affiliate as a retargeting approach for the marketing plan.

It means that once the affiliate submits his data he becomes registered, but the agents don’t carry on the approach by calling back the participants to highlight the bank engagement and ensure the validation.  

CRM system: lazy information  

The CRM systems are humble and not oriented to serve the banks’ branding goals. Islamic  Banks in Tunisia, don’t use data for retargeting or service optimization.

Instead, they used to receive data from different tubes and resources but don’t get this information to boost the actual situation where people are criticizing the Islamic banks’ services and seek to have a better experience. This is a common issue with the different banks and not just the Islamic ones. 

Data are another significant currency in the bank and they need to improve their tools and data resources to be able to cover the customer’s expectations and fill the actual issue that the majority of customers are pointing;  which is the old-school yet poorly-built process. 

CRM tools need to be developed to enhance the customer experience. Customers chose to deal with Islamic banks, and they expect to find better treatment for their requests.  In terms of communication, process, digital services…

So from this point, CRM systems need to be more dynamic in data generation to highlight customers’ journey pain-points and allow the staff to improve that.

SEO Plans are missing 

The online presence is not just about building a website and highlights services and introduce the company profile. Financial institutions and public establishments, in general, need to change this conception. 

In Tunisia Islamic banks are like conventional banks, both types of institutions don’t consider online reputation as it needs to be. ADS and content are not well functioning. Thus They miss many chances to convey values and to reach real prospects online. 

Taking into consideration that 87,04% of participants said that the first source they address to search for information is in search engines. 

In other words, they need to raise their opportunity to meet the user online ( forum, social media groups, reviews, comments interaction…)

They need to pave the way for the user journey from the awareness stage until the retention. Considering the different touchpoints, he goes through online.

This indicator is a key point to make banks consider the user search experience and target the relevant keywords.

Write and target key terms that users are looking for, in terms of information, assistance, or anything that can seem unclear. This is quite important for those who are seeking general information or they don’t have ideas about the best bank that fits their financial conditions.

Another reason why banks, in general, need to write about their services clearly is to allow customers to have a clear idea about all aspects online and without wasting time for acknowledgment in the bank agency.

Also, that helps in raising awareness and building online authority. As the bank pages will be considered as an important source of information for the users, in terms of  ( FAQ, Shariaa principles, articles, videos…) all these tools need to be a worthy informative resource to read.

Visual Identity and User experience

The use of visuals and the design of user experience are not yet matured. Users of the Islamic bank’s platforms are asked to deal with interfaces and pages that don’t apply trending features that they look for or they used to find in other pages. When we asked users about what needs to be developed in banks’ online platforms. 32,82%: said the user interface. 

This percentage indicates that people have become aware of the digital environment and they can differentiate between the high and low-quality design. And They can provide determined feedback about the customer experience that they went through on a particular website.

We need to consider that the age bracket is a turning point in the online approach. Millennials are digitally savvy and in this survey, the majority of the participants are under 40, which can highlight the customer personas and skills.

For that state of mind, banks and public institutions in general, need to cope with digital agencies and experienced parties in this field to draw an attractive interface and brand identity that leave an impact on the customer journey.

Digitization and e-administration are now the only indicators yet reference to evaluate any type of business either a bank, insurance, school, university; ministry, health institutions…. 

In Tunisia, the institutional sectors and public departments are not getting enough from the digital facilities that the actual generation is providing.

Even though they use some digital figures, they use them in limited areas or they apply a humble framework that blocks the functionality of some fields. 

That can explain or at least illustrate the complaints and dissatisfaction of the participants and customers in general.  They don’t consider the banks’ websites as a relevant medium to forward their transactions. Although they declared in their responses that they are eager to treat their financial transactions online. 

To what extent people are satisfied with Islamic banks in Tunisia 

The interest is a controversial aspect

Islamic banks are based on equity participation as we mentioned in the introduction of the chapter. 

But many participants said that Islamic funding applies interest but in different formats. They purchase goods or tools on the behalf of the customer and then he gets those goods on a regular payment basis pre-agreed with the bank as a leasing trading format. 

The thing is that Islamic banks don’t charge a direct interest on loans, but they do increase the value of the asset and sell it back to the customer at a higher price than the price defined by the manufacturer. Kind of trading

The satisfaction rate about the online platforms offered by Islamic banks 

When we asked people how much you are satisfied with the digital pages that Islamic banks provide, 231 skipped this question and only 181 answered and only 29,28%, said they are satisfied, However, 70,72% said that they are unsatisfied. 

The mentioned data can tell two important statements; the < 1 > is that people don’t know about Islamic bank’s digital services or they don’t consider it to be rated for an extra advantage added. The < 2 > is that the majority of respondents that answered this question don’t find that Islamic banks can reach the level of their expectations.

In both situations, There are missing layers; the first one is about raising awareness and the second one is about the service quality that has been provided.

Crediting terms and conditions

Participants said that both Islamic and conventional banks look the same and deal with customers the same way when it comes to crediting policy and conditions. The thing is just in the format of selling these services. 

The costs of goods that Islamic bank charges to the debtors are extremely high under the trading organism that they used to work with.

Also, the duration of paying back is restricted by the bank and the customer doesn’t have the right to reduce that duration even if he can pay back all his debts earlier.

When we ask participants about how the Islamic banks can develop their services, 30 % said that they need to offer more flexible conditions for customers.

People said that either interest or trade they seem similar in terms of charges. Conventional banks charge them a direct interest and the Islamic Banks sell them expensive services. 


Stay Tuned for the 4th part of the survey and the last one.

Maybe you missed The previous parts, check them in the links below


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