GCC retail banking heads are focusing on the mass affluent segment, regarding it as a key area for future growth in the retail market.

“The mass affluent segment grew at 8 per cent in 2009 in the Middle East and was the second fastest-growing banking segment in the world,” said Mark Elliot, director of sales at Barclays Middle East. “We are developing our offerings to cater to this so we can participate in that growth and that segment is enough for us to go on at the moment.”

Louis Scotto, head of retail banking at Doha Bank, agreed that mass affluent customers will be a key driver of future revenues.

“These customers will be crucial going forward, as that’s where revenues are going to come from,” he says “And if you don’t do it the right way, then the established players in the market such as HSBC and Barclays who have been doing it for years will outperform you.”

Philip King, assistant general manager of retail banking at International Bank of Qatar IBQ), said that the bank’s strategy was also focused on this segment.

“We’re still quite new in the retail space, but our focus is going to be on high-income and elite customers,” he says. “We’re not looking to grow the lower-income segment at this time.”

The bankers were speaking at MEED’s Middle East Retail Banking 2010 conferenence being held on 27-28 September.