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Zand CEO quits just months after UAE licence win

Departing Zand co-founder and CEO Olivier Crespin Supplied
Departing Zand co-founder and CEO Olivier Crespin
  • Digital bank CEO Olivier Crespin leaves ‘to pursue other interests’
  • Zand and rival Wio go up against Liv., the UAE’s first digital bank
  • UAE digital account adoption could hit 34% next year

Zand, the digital banking platform that secured its licence from the Central Bank of the UAE in July, is on the hunt for a new CEO.

The bank, which has launched corporate services with personal banking to follow soon, announced a leadership change on Tuesday with Olivier Crespin, co-founder and CEO, moving on “to pursue other interests”.

Mark James Chittenden, Zand’s CTO, has assumed the role of interim CEO, and a new CEO will be appointed shortly by the board of directors.

Mohamed Alabbar, chairman of Zand, said: “On behalf of the Board, we thank Olivier for his rich contribution to creating a truly digital-first bank fit for the new reality. He has played a key role in building Zand’s operations from the ground up.

“He also assembled a talented and highly capable operational team of experienced bankers and technologists, who will continue to deliver on the vision of the board of directors.”

Crespin said it had been a privilege to work at Zand, which has “achieved significant milestones that will establish its position as the bank of the future”.

Zand recently received its banking licence from the UAE Central Bank, authorising and regulating it as a fully independent commercial bank.

Digital banking is gaining traction in the UAE and wider Gulf region as financial organisations seek to seize opportunities thrown up by fintech.  

Zand and rival Wio will go up against the likes of Liv., the UAE’s first digital bank targeted at millennials, which was launched back in 2017 by Emirates NBD, Dubai’s largest bank.

Jayesh Patel, who previously spearheaded the creation of Liv., was appointed CEO of Wio in May.

A global survey published in August by UK-based comparison platform Finder said 19 percent of adults in the UAE have a digital account, up from 17 percent last year – and that adoption could hit 34 percent next year and 41 percent in 2027.

The UAE has similar digital bank adoption levels to Hong Kong, Singapore, Spain and Mexico, the report added.

The global market size for digital banks is estimated to be worth around $300 billion, with roughly 400 around the world serving close to one billion clients, according to a 2022 report by consulting firm Simon-Kucher.