Q&A: How digital Islamic Bank Nomo targets the mass affluent

Alex Sword


The Financial Services Forum

Daniel Smith is the Head of Brand and Marketing at Nomo, a digital Islamic bank. In this Q&A, he describes some of the techniques the brand is using to reach mass affluent customers.


What is Nomo?

Nomo is the world’s first digital international Islamic Bank, launched in 2021. The proposition is focused on residents in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) or the Middle East who want access to international banking facilities when they’re in the UK. These people travel a lot. It’s aimed at the mass affluent sector, rather than high net worth individuals.

We’ve got savings, multi-currency current accounts, fixed term deposit and property finance. [The latter] allows you to get a mortgage without being a resident here in Britain. We also support students and families that send children to study in the UK.

So it’s quite a new, different proposition for the market.


What is your marketing strategy?

When we started it was very much a travel proposition. We charge you just 1% when you convert money, which is pretty strong in the market when you’d be looking at 2 to 5% anywhere else.

We’ve tried to broaden that proposition now to be a more holistic international bank – ‘the international bank in your pocket’.

The goal is to create a sophisticated offering for affluent people, which is a higher premium product that we’re trying to offer customers.

We’re trying to look at what can we offer that money can’t buy. We’re working with some key retailers in London to look at how we can tailor experiences based on being NOMO customers.

These people have a higher amount of disposable income, so don’t need discounts or offers necessarily. What they do want is something that’s personalised or tailored to what they need. It could be we give them access to Selfridges and they can have personalised experiences, or early notification of new releases or certain luxury items.


How are you executing this?

What we’re trying to do is identify the affluent customers and look at their personas. We’ve created eight different personas that are basically life stage-based. Then we’re looking at what media they consume and trying to weave our marketing creative into those channels to convert people that way.

We know some of our audience are young and travel quite often, while some people are older with families and travel three or four times a year.

We do a mixture of external and internal research. We’ve got our in-house research and design team, so they spend their time talking to our consumers. We’ve conducted a separate piece of strategy work in Kuwait where we’ve gone out to the market to survey our affluent customer base.

We’ve also just done some NPS work around detractors and promoters of the product with one of our partners.

We use that to inform what we’re going to do around the design. For example, I’ve just been in a workshop where we’re looking at how we evolve the app further and what we need to do in terms of research and how we can update the personas.


How do you support this offering in other channels?

We have an always-on digital strategy, but by market it’s very different.

The Saudi market is very Twitter and Snapchat-based, whereas Kuwait is very Instagram-based.

We try to serve multi-channel campaigns across those channels which we support with above the line advertising. Especially in some key markets like Kuwait and the UAE, we did an above the line campaign around some billboard advertising and fairly heavyweight radio campaign as well.

We’re only a couple of years into it, so we’re still trying to experiment and get it right.

And then we’re in the typical marketing world of price and product and what can we do to enhance products and enrich the places where we’re effectively going to promote it.


What are your plans for 2024?

We’ve got some really important KPIs – we need to double our customer numbers. That’s going to come from fairly aggressive acquisition activity in our key markets. We’ve launched our property finance business into the intermediary market. This will require a B2B marketing play, so we need to develop our capabilities around that, such as building our broker website.

We’ve got quite a big opportunity to try and get people reactivated with the proposition as well. Because it’s heavily linked to when people travel and when people want to do something on an international basis. It’s not their everyday current account in their home country – it’s their international banking partner.

It’s just making sure that we’re top of mind when people do want to pay school fees, do international money transfers, to exchange currency or look at buying a property overseas.

We’ve also got some work to do around our website. Our website as our education portal basically gives people content and information around who we are, what we do, and the application journey.

Last but not least, we’ve got a potential new market we’re going into. Again, we’re working with our banking partner to develop that and that’s going to be a big market for us as we continue to penetrate that GCC area.

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