Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Bahrain’s First Fintech Programmer

Interview with Shaima Almeer: The Kingdom has a future of unprecedented growth as bright young minds illuminate diverse industries with new technologies and innovations. Shaima Almeer, a young Bahraini graduate from Bahrain Polytechnic University becomes the first robot programmer in the Kingdom of Bahrain, ‘BisB AI- agent’.

In this interview with Bahrain This Week, Shaima Almeer explains her unique innovation, her predictions for the technological developments in the Kingdom and the mission that she strives to achieve for the Kingdom.

Bahrain banking industry will make a great leap with your first humanoid robot? How did you start creating BisB Al-Agent?

As part of my senior project at the Bahrain Polytechnic, I was required to identify and investigate a current problem and to come up with an effective ICT solution by collaborating with one of the industries in the Kingdom of Bahrain. My project internship started on 16th   of September, where I had to come up with an innovative idea and a solution to my industry mentors Mr. Abdulsalam Alasaadi and Ms. Asma Alsayed by the 26th of December.

Both my mentors directly signed on my proposal and I was ready to go with the project. The main purpose of the implemented product, was to give employees adequate time to enhance their skills, rather than focusing on the daily business processes. Therefore, I had utilized several programming languages to develop an artificial intelligence system to be deployed on the robot.

Tell us about your background in banking technology?

To be honest, I had zero background in the banking technology until I joined the Bahrain Islamic Bank. I have learnt a lot during the one month summer internship as I had the chance to explore each and every department in the IT.

How did your collaboration with
BiSB start?

I started off as a trainee at BisB during summer 2017, for just a month. During that month, I tried my best to give a great impression. Thankfully, I was able to do that. As a result, before leaving, the head of IT, Mr. Osama AlNasr, insisted that when it was time to work on my final graduation project, I would come back to BisB.

What are the unique features of BisB Al-Agent?

BisB AI-Agent is not like a normal banking machine, for she does not execute fund transactions, but provides an innovative, digitalized, and entertaining way for BisB customers to learn more about their services and offers.

BisB AI-Agent enables BisB customers to view the latest and trending services, view video-graphical tutorials on how to perform certain tasks, view the maps of different branches via QR codes, and rate their experience. Moreover, I have also configured 6 different touch sensors with 5 speech dialogs enabling customer physical interaction. Also, I have integrated a user defined voice, where customers are able to communicate with the robot via speech manager and speech recognition. The following implementations were hosted on Amazon Web Services, providing a highly available, redundant, decoupled, and secure cloud infrastructure to better serve BisB customers.

How did the Bahrain Banking industry acknowledge your creation?

The first time people had the chance to see BisB AI-Agent was during Bahrain Polytechnic’s Information and Communication Technology Project Exhibition, where over 50 students presented their work. The videos and photos of my project to the management of Bahrain Polytechnic were uploaded on LinkedIn and the number of views hit up to 7K within just 3 days. I was then acknowledged at the E-payment and online banking summit and to give a speech in front of many bank CEOs and employees.

What’s your next mission in this field?

I will commence my career in my dream job on 2nd September 2019. All I can say is that, my next mission is to work on a huge project with Bahrain’s Government.

What do you envisage as the major changes in banking industry as initiated by AI and Fintech?

Artificial intelligence has been a fascinating concept of science fiction for decades, but it wasn’t as popular as it is today. I undoubtedly point in the direction that AI will herald a transformational change in the banking industry, for it can dramatically save financial costs! Moreover, it will support companies into producing a finer customer experience. However, it all depends on the customer’s level of comfort with AI.

What are the other advancements you have had in this field so far?

Upon the handover of the project, I moved to a whole new industry; healthcare industry. It was a great experience for I have learnt a lot about the technologies and the potential projects that can be developed to enhance patient experience.

During my employment, I worked on a project called “Smart Mirror”. The smart mirror tends to connect patients to the outside world, on the consequence that they might have certain device limitations. The mirror displays the date, time, weather, real time news, prayer timings and Qur’an verses that changes every minute. Also, it integrates Alexa Voice Service that allows patients to search the web via voice commands.

Apart from Banking & technology, what are your other interests?

I enjoy exploring and working on innovative projects that incorporates latest technologies, thus, accelerating technological growth in the Kingdom. Aside from technology, I enjoy marketing. I own an online business, where I sell men’s and women’s clothing of Hollister brand.

How will you support the Kingdom to nurture the future generation in Banking & Technology?

I have drifted from the banking industry since January 2019. But as for technology, I am very determined to raise awareness and empower youth and women. Therefore, I have joined Google Developer Group Manama as a co-organizer, where I present my own sessions based on technologies that I am well aware of. By this, I hope my mission will get fulfilled.

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