Emirates NBD implements Elastic to enhance customer experience and technology operations
Emirates NBD is a Dubai government-owned bank and is one of the largest banking groups in the Middle East in terms of assets, and was named “UAE’s Best Bank” in 2020 for a fifth consecutive year by Euromoney.
The institution maintains $190 billion in total assets and serves more than 14 million banking customers in China, Egypt, India, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and Turkey.
Ali Rey, the Vice President of Cloud and Data Platforms for Emirates NBD, was assigned to bolster digital security, ensuring regulatory data-retention compliance and enhancing customer experience and trust.
As part of its digital transformation makeover, the bank adopted a newer, modern, and cost-efficient data stack with free and open Elasticsearch at the center.
Rey's first challenge was to solve siloed data structures across the company. There was no single repository or unified structure, which exposed the bank to unnecessary risk. The bank’s engineers were constrained by legacy solutions requiring them to spend too much time sifting through individual log files from disparate data sources to find the root cause of problems.
In response, Emirates NBD built a centralized logging system that crunches multiple terabytes of data a day from a multitude of data sources — stored on premises. These data points include customer transactions inside and outside of their 967 bank branches.
This new environment amounts to what Rey characterizes as the foundation of a single source of truth. Behind the scenes, hundreds of the bank’s developers have embraced the technology, and use it as part of their daily routines — overcoming the constraints of their old solutions that made it difficult to discover and quickly react to issues.
With APM, Emirates NBD customers always come first
With the log data centralized into Elasticsearch, the bank turned to the application performance monitoring (APM) capabilities in Elastic Observability to track the health and performance of their digital experiences. By adding APM, they were able to resolve consumer-facing issues in a matter of minutes instead of days and increase customer trust and satisfaction.
Elastic Observability is monitoring hundreds of apps, including the ATM experience, across Emirates NBD. With centralized visibility, developers are able to instantly detect and resolve customer-facing issues like online web problems, credit card transaction hiccups, or ATM troubles. This real-time visibility into the issues helps the bank better manage the customer relationship, and to build trust and confidence with clients. For example, when Elastic APM alerts the bank of a glitch with an ATM machine, the bank can contact the impacted customer to reassure them that the situation is being fixed.
Before adopting their new observability solution, Rey says, "we might not have known until the end of a day that there was a problem with the ATM machine."
In addition, machine learning features are set to trigger notifications when there are unusual spikes or ebbs in customer transactions, allowing engineers to quickly assess the situation, and act accordingly before a service disruption or other issues mire the customer experience.
Rey says the bank's developers have a unified view that accelerates root-cause analysis. This bolsters customer satisfaction, increases consumer trust, and enhances the institution's bottom line. Also, the bank's developers are now freed to increase their focus and speed to build new internal- and external-facing products and services instead of spending the bulk of their time searching for and resolving issues.
Beyond the customer-facing experience, centralized logging provides the bank with an avenue to beef up security and to store and retrieve audit logs required by governance stakeholders.
Ensuring internal and governmental data-retention compliance
The review of years-old granular details is now possible, such as when and where a transaction occurred, and by whom. The bank also retains logs about which systems internal and external customers have logged into, and when they logged out.
"If there are any disputes, or any questions, queries or anything that happens from both an internal or external point of view, we've got these audit logs that haven't been tampered with," Rey says. "We also store these audit logs for extended periods to comply with existing data-retention regulations, as well as for new laws and audits that governments may impose."
And thanks to centralized logging, the bank then expanded to another use case, Elastic Security, to help the bank detect external and internal threats. This is done by leveraging out-of-box, and customized detection rules created on the Elastic SIEM platform.
The bank is in the process of further enhancing its detection capabilities by implementing the built-in machine learning rules provided by Elastic SIEM.
Becoming a stronger financial institution
Elastic helped Emirates NBD accelerate root-cause analysis, bolster customer satisfaction, increase consumer trust, and enhance security. By lowering risk and boosting the bottom line, Emirates NBD has become an even stronger financial institution thanks to Elastic.
"Elastic has become one of our key strategic partners," Rey says, "and we keep gaining more and more value out of the platform."