Staff Reporters
Jun 29, 2020

Asia-Pacific Power List 2020: Javed Iqbal, United Commercial Bank

Javed Iqbal's efforts to serve the unbanked in Bangladesh have served his brand well.

Asia-Pacific Power List 2020: Javed Iqbal, United Commercial Bank
Asia-Pacific’s 50 most influential and purposeful marketers

Javed Iqbal

Senior vice president, head of marketing and communication
United Commercial Bank

Javed Iqbal has led marketing efforts at Bangladesh’s United Commercial Bank since 2008, first as VP and now as SVP. During that time, and especially over the last few years, he has played an important role in transforming the bank from an old-line conservative institution to a more modern service-oriented company that is succeeding at attracting younger customers. 

Dedicated to making banking services accessible to all, Iqbal drove a rebranding campaign in partnership with Grey Dhaka. UCB’s new brand proposition has positioned it to capitalise on a rising middle class by serving previously unbanked citizens. Since the rebranding, UCB has seen exceptional growth in terms of new customer acquisitions, credit card adoption, loan issuances, and fixed deposit accounts.

Like all the best marketers, Iqbal is deeply involved not just in communications but also in product development. UCB’s launch of UCash, a mobile banking solution, was among the first of its kind in Bangladesh. Since its launch, it has provided a banking platform to more than 2 million people.

Building on that success, UCB went on to create the AgroBanking project, which helped achieve financial inclusion for nearly 125,000 farmers. The programme helps farmers sell their produce at fair prices directly to a grocery chain called Shwapno, while depositing the proceeds into their UCash accounts. The effort won three Cannes Lions (silvers in Sustainable Development and Brand Experience & Activation plus a bronze in Mobile) as well as nine awards at Spikes Asia in 2019. 

More recently, UCB scored a major coup with a campaign, also through Grey, that sought to lift spirits during the COVID-19 lockdown. The brand started out with an illustration-based social media campaign paying tribute to frontline workers, and then followed that up with a video in which frontline workers sang a patriotic song dating back to the country’s struggle for independence. Both elements of the campaign attracted favourable attention because they tapped into deep wells of cultural resonance and, most importantly, showed great empathy. 

In connection with that campaign, Iqbal made a statement that applies not only to the campaign itself but also to his overall achievement during his tenure: “United Commercial Bank is a brand,” he said, “that stands for care and support and shares an extremely strong connection with those we serve.”  

Asia-Pacific’s 50 most influential and purposeful marketers


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