Banking 2.0: The Digital Revolution

In an era where time is at a premium, and the digital landscape is rapidly evolving Bank Alfalah is spearheading the remarkable digital transformation.
Published April 17, 2024

Bank Alfalah (BAFL), a premier bank with over a thousand branches over 200 cities in Pakistan, has been a front runner in innovation and excellence in the banking industry. The products and services developed over the years have revolutionised banking in Pakistan. Having won nearly 50 banking awards in categories such as Trade Finance, Housing Finance and Payment Solutions, Bank Alfalah has always prioritised convenience to customers with their innovative products and services.

Bank Alfalah, winner of the Best Digital Banking Award two years in a row (2022 and 2023), has been committed to providing customers with useful digital solutions for their banking needs. This metamorphosis is most evident in the emergence of Bank Alfalah’s Digital Lifestyle Branch – an innovative fusion of cutting-edge technology, lifestyle amenities, and comprehensive financial services for all. The recently launched Digital Lifestyle Branch is a first in the country and has piqued the interest of many.

Located on main Zamzama in Karachi, the branch proves to be a very convenient location for both, Bank Alfalah account holders and non-account holders who want to utilise their digital banking facilities.

We were invited to visit the branch and check out their various services under one roof. Blown away by the visual identity of the branch, we learned that the architecture, design, and branding aesthetics were curated by Studio Subtraction and Image Graphics Solutions.

Let’s delve into the various facets of the branch that make it the epicentre of financial empowerment.

Grab a quick bite at Premo by Xander’s’ Takeaway

The moment you enter the branch you are greeted with the welcoming aroma of coffee brewing at the Premo takeaway counter. The concept of a lifestyle branch is to incorporate such everyday lifestyle features for customers that uplift the banking experience into a lifestyle experience. Premo has developed a takeaway menu for those who need a quick “pick me up” or an on-the-go breakfast, lunch, dinner or a snack. Premo by Xander’s Takeaway puts the same unique gastronomical spin that Xander’s is renowned for, on grab-and-go meals. The takeaway area features easy-to-carry food like moreish sandwiches, wraps, muffins, coffees, soups, salads, pastas, desserts, etc. There are new items regularly added to the menu so you will never get tired of what they have on offer.

Pakistan’s most comprehensive digital banking lobby

Bank Alfalah is the first bank in Pakistan to introduce the concept of a “phygital” bank lobby. As customers enter the bank they interact with the Virtual Assistant that allows them to select their desired service and then proceed to it. The Digital Onboarding Terminal allows a user to choose between visiting the digital locker, book a co-working space, or retrieving information on the digital services being offered at the branch.

This bank lobby is unlike any other lobby you have experienced before. With multiple machines on offer for the various banking services, you never have to waste your precious time waiting in lines to speak to the clerk and then deposit your money and/or cheque.

Cash Deposit Machine (CDM): The evolution of cash

The traditional image of waiting in a queue to deposit cash is now a relic of the past with Bank Alfalah. Enter the Cash Deposit Machine (CDM), a true marvel in the world of banking. Depositing cash is now as simple as a few taps on a screen. The Bank’s CDMs are swift, secure, available 24/7, you do not need to been an account holder to utilise this facility, and above all, you can deposit cash in any bank account in Pakistan. No longer bound by the constraints of banking hours, customers can now deposit cash at their convenience, ensuring their valuable time is spent on more meaningful pursuits. Additionally, there is no limit to the amount of money deposited and the notes do not need sorting as well, perfect for business owners looking to safely deposit cash at the end of their day.  .

A snap away: Cash and Cheque Deposit Machines (CCDM)

In the digital age, visiting a branch during business hours to deposit a cheque is a bygone inconvenience. The Cash and Cheque Deposit Machine (CCDM) at Bank Alfalah’s Digital Lifestyle Branch takes center stage, besides accepting and dispensing cash, it has simplified the process of depositing cheques. This ingenious technology allows for instant clearing of Bank Alfalah cheques and the 24/7 facility allows any account holder to deposit their cheques safely in the CCDM at any time of the day, or night.

Withdraw large sums from a secure ATM

Unlike other bank ATMs, Bank Alfalah’s Lifestyle Branch offers supreme security. The ATM is located within the 24/7 branch that’s guarded at all times. The ATMs at this branch have the highest withdrawal limits in Pakistan, with PKR 200,000 per transaction and PKR 1 million in a day. A special feature with these ATMs is that they are app-style and once a customer has registered biometrically at this branch, they can withdraw cash without their card.

Digital Locker: Where security meets accessibility

Renting bank lockers is a norm in Pakistan. It is typically used for important documents, gold, and other valuables that people are not comfortable having at home. The Digital Locker is a unique feature whereby a customer does not need to interact with anyone to get access to their locker. They are given a smart key that allows them to access the vault.

We had the opportunity to learn the inner workings of this state-of-the-art locker facility. A Bank Alfalah smart card generated to the user is scanned to let the person into the room where the locker is presented, similar to the Amazon robot fetching products from a particular aisle. Once a person is in, they interact with the touch screen to verify their details via a biometric scan, and their locker is located and presented, similar to an Amazon robot fetching products from a particular aisle. Once again to open the locker a key is generated to the user. The lockers are available for rent in three sizes, small, medium, and large. The 24/7 facility makes access to the locker convenient, especially if you’re running short on time and forgot to get your jewelry out for your special occasion.  .

Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) makes electronic purchases a breeze

There’s no denying that inflation has been a pain point for Pakistanis in recent years. Inflation, coupled with a weak exchange rate has made items like electronics difficult to acquire in one go. While many save up to buy a particular gadget, it’s important to note that the time value of money declines, therefore you’re better off buying the item today, instead of six months from now. Bank Alfalah’s Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) service is the answer to the dilemma “Do I spend the money today or tomorrow?”  .

BNPL allows customers of any bank to utilise their bank-issued credit card and purchase genuine gadgets at a competitive price, on installments of up to 12 months. This BNPL service is Shariah compliant and Riba (interest) free as well so customers do not end up paying a higher price for their purchased item. Customers can select from a wide variety of products, be it smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, etc. Products can be purchased in-store at the Zamzama outlet.  .

Open an account digitally with RAPID

Bank Alfalah’s RAPID is an electronic terminal that facilitates digital account opening around the clock, making it a convenient solution for those who are unable to take the time out to visit a branch during business hours. This innovative kiosk is one of a kind, featuring an easy-to-use interface and access to a 24/7 video assistant from their call centres. The branch also has a debit and credit card printing facility and the cards can be printed during business hours, allowing customers to walk away with a fully functioning account and debit card. Additionally, the RAPID kiosks provide bank statement printouts 24/7, ideal for last-minute visa applications.  .

Experience quick turnaround with the Consumer Finance Desk

Applying for a credit card can be a painstakingly long process, especially with most banks having online applications, yet requiring customers to send in their documentation. However, as Bank Alfalah is all about customer convenience, the Digital Lifestyle Branch has a dedicated Consumer Finance Desk where those interested can seek advice on the best credit card for their needs, e.g. frequent flyers would benefit from an American Express Credit Card and Bank Alfalah happens to be the only bank authorised to provide AmEx cards. Similarly, depending on your income and spending patterns, the Consumer Finance executive provides options on the best credit card options, and the facility to apply for one online.

The Consumer Finance Desk also facilitates the financing process. Those looking for car loans, home financing, or personal loans can consult the desk executives and begin their digital application right away.  .

Indulge in a scrumptious meal at Premo

Elevating the dine-in experience, Premo by Xanders, located on the first floor, offered a cosy space to enjoy indulgent meals. No reservations needed; we effortlessly explored a menu curated by the chefs. More than just a meal, it was an easygoing mix of breakfast favourites, lazy brunches, satisfying lunches, chill tea time, or a hearty dinner. The ambiance, with its understated elegance, made our time spent here more than just about the food – it was a personal retreat.  .

As we relished each bite, the background music set the mood. This wasn’t a flashy establishment; it was a perfect blend of great food and a laid-back ambiance. The space integrated into our experience, steering away from corporate vibes for a more personal touch.

Our Top Picks from the Menu: A few dishes stood out as our ultimate favourites. The Moroccan chicken, with its rich blend of spices, took our taste buds on a ride. For a comforting yet exotic option, the Asian curry noodle bowl was a flavorful delight. And of course, no meal is complete without a sweet ending – the classic cheesecake. For those who want more cafe-style food, the tantilising Premo Diner Burger with Loaded Fries is a must-have, while for breakfast, the Egg and Mushroom Croissant is a crowd favorite.

Increase productivity at Work Hall

Transitioning from the delectable offerings at Premo, Work Hall emerges as the perfect complement, offering a dynamic co-working space for individuals and startups alike. Work Hall provides cubicles available for rent by the hour, creating an ideal environment for collaboration while focusing on productivity.

Whether you’re seeking a temporary workspace, a meeting room for a day, or a more extended arrangement, Work Hall’s flexible booking options cater to your specific needs. The ease of access to this co-working space is facilitated through both onsite digital portals and online platforms, streamlining the reservation process. The transparent cubicles not only provide a professional and organised setting but also foster a sense of openness and connectivity. This unique feature sets Work Hall apart, allowing occupants to balance focused work with a collaborative atmosphere.

Top Features of Work Hall

  1. Flexibility: Choose a meeting room based on your requirements, whether it’s for a day, a few days, a week, a month, or even a year.
  2. Digital Accessibility: Embrace the convenience of booking your workspace using the digital portals available both onsite and online.
  3. High-speed Connectivity: Work Hall ensures that you stay connected with high-speed internet, facilitating seamless communication and efficient work processes.

Digital facilitation and wealth management in the basement

The basement of the Digital Lifestyle Branch is where value-added banking services are provided. An innovative help desk, known as the Digital Facilitation Desk (DFD) has been introduced, where dedicated staff (DFD agents) are present to entertain customer service requests and queries. The DFD utilises cutting-edge biometric technology, where any customer’s physical call centre requests can be dealt with first hand, opposed to waiting in line for an operator to pick up the phone. Some of the services offered by DFD include:

  • Alfa App registration/Activation
  • Debit Card Activation
  • Alfa/Internet Banking password reset
  • Credit and Debit card blocking
  • Credit and Debit card issuance
  • Account Balance/Transaction inquiry
  • Credit Card Inquiry/Statement

Wealth management and investment advice regarding mutual funds or (to be added) can be accessed instantly at the Digital Lifestyle Branch. Various desks have been developed to provide financial advice based on the customers needs, funds, and most importantly, risk appetite, whether you want information on mutual funds, or stock trading, or you wish to digitally open a fund investment or stock trading account, you can do so under one roof at this branch.

Bank Alfalah’s Digital Lifestyle Branch stands as a beacon of consumer-centric digital transformation in Pakistan’s banking landscape. Through a harmonious blend of cutting-edge technology and lifestyle amenities, Bank Alfalah has redefined the banking experience, making it more accessible, efficient, and enjoyable for customers. Every aspect of the branch is meticulously designed to cater to the diverse needs of modern-day banking consumers. As Bank Alfalah continues to expand its network of Digital Lifestyle Branches across the country, the promise of seamless banking experiences and financial empowerment shines brighter than ever. Embrace the future of banking today with Bank Alfalah.

This content is produced in paid partnership with Bank Alfalah.