FinTech Focus

Embracing innovation

April 10 - 16, 2019

Gulf Weekly Embracing innovation

FinTech will radically improve the financial health of the people of the Gulf region through access to next-generation banking services, according to a Bahrain business supremo.

Simon Galpin, managing director of Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) urged companies to embrace innovation during Finnovex ME 2019, a recent one-day conference on financial innovation and excellence, held in Dubai.

“FinTech holds the strongest potential to impact the ME economy with the potential of open banking to transform the services available to consumers in the short to medium-term,” he said. “We’re also laying the foundations for the development of cryptocurrency in the Middle East. That’s another technology that has the potential to take off and progress far beyond what we’ve seen to date.

“As technology continues to transform every sector and market, those who don’t innovate are left behind. But creating the conditions for innovation is a little trickier; but is possible. It’s more conducive to the culture of entrepreneurialism that we’re fostering here as we create an environment for the next generation of digitally-minded companies to take root and flourish. The data economy in the region is expected to create 10,000 jobs for data scientists over five years.”

The Finnovex ME 2019 brought together more than 300 delegates from many countries, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman and Egypt. It featured key banking and finance industry thought-leaders, focusing on the future of financial services to be reshaped by the ‘disruptive’ technological innovations in structuring, provision and consumption.

The summit highlighted challenges and opportunities in the region, bringing together government authorities, representatives from central banks and local as well as global financial institutions. It also recognised the best practices, organisations and individuals in the banking and financial services sectors for ‘showcasing excellence’ in adopting the industrial transformation.

Shabaz Ahmed, executive director at Exibex, said the event examined how technology is changing the delivery of banking and payment services and discussed the roles of banks, FinTech companies and other stakeholders in building ‘an impetus to this paradigm shift’ as rapidly changing technology provides a ‘momentous opportunity’ to transform banking and financial services.

“The Middle East is one of the world’s fastest growing regions in the banking and capital markets sector,” added Kanchi Shah, head of production, Exibex.

“The region’s financial services sector is in the middle of an immense overhaul. With populations getting younger, better educated and more demanding, swelling diversity in financial products and services and rising regulatory requirements for better monitoring of processes and developing secure financial systems, banks and financial institutions across the region are investing heavily to match, or surpass, their international peers.”

The Central Bank of UAE, EDB, Alinma Bank, Emirates NBD, Bahrain Islamic Bank, Arab National Bank, Jordan Ahli Bank, Riyad Bank, Al Fardan Exchange, Dubai Islamic Bank, Abu Dhabi Financial Group, Arab Bank for Investment & Foreign Trade, MENA Fintech Association and AXA Green Crescent Insurance Company were key partners of the event.

The organisers said these industrial fore-runners have been ‘instrumental’ in embracing change in the region.

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