Middle East NXT Banking Summit: Fintech will boost the banking sector in the region

Governments and private sector stakeholders are increasingly embracing fintech (Image via Stockvault).

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With the urge of knowing and sharing fintech capabilities and the way they impact the economy, The Middle East NXT Banking Summit, attracted leaders and industry experts from numerous areas throughout the Middle East and Asia.

Held at The Address Dubai Marina on September 26-27 2017, the event brought discussion panels and talks that accentuated the experiences of various practitioners and the ways they transformed their banking models to adapt to the innovation fintech is bringing. It also exhibited some fintech entrants in the market and showcased several established providers.

Shaping banking of the future

“Innovation is moving at a very fast pace and there is no room to underestimate the potential of demand and the impact of technology especially in the UAE,” said Craig Moore, founder and CEO Beehive.

The event highlighted ways of re-inventing banking such as the introduction of Intelligent Process Automation (IPA) to emulate human action, which will save banks time while performing repetitive tasks. The summit also shed the light on the various modes of contactless payment innovation that banks could adopt, such as tokenizing through smartphone-based banking.

Foreseeing the position of GCC banks and that of young consumers, the event climaxed into strategic ways that will shape banking and payments of the future through Artificial Intelligence and smart workflow systems. Concepts such as data integration, voice authentication and mobile usage, are expected to fill the gap between what banks are currently offering and what customers are expecting.  

Image via Aisha Modhar.

Fintech can service traditional banks

Even if fintech innovations are encouraged and progressively being adopted in the region, the concern about accepting fintech and integrating it into the banking industry’s various channels, from process automation and backend solutions to customers, is still  blurred.

In an attempt to clarify how crucial can be the role of fintech startups in the banking industry, the event accentuated the potential successful collaboration between banks and fintech startups, once both parties understand the mechanisms of each other.  

Raja Al Mazrouei, acting executive vice president - Fintech Hive at Dubai International Financial Center Authority spoke to Wamda about the dynamic development of fintech startups and how impactful they are in transforming industries.

The event leaders called established fintech startups to increasingly partner with financial institutions across the region to showcase the reality of fintech adoption and how to take advantage of digital trends such as mobility and the Internet of Things to boost the industry’s growth.

Regulators are also involved

The banking industry as well as fintech startups are pushing regulators to provide additional facilitation to stimulate business growth. According to Al Mazrouei, both regulators and public authorities are welcoming the tech trend and are adopting it at the same pace. “They are also working on providing adequate and timely information to grow the industry, and spread the impact of technology,” she said.  

Erik Wilgenhof Plante, emerging technologies & financial innovation lead, financial services, at the Regulatory Authority at Abu Dhabi Global Market, told Wamda that regulators in the region are catching up to ensure the banking industry becomes more agile.

Ahmed Al Balooshi, first VP, head of information technology, at Al Baraka Banking Group, also told Wamda that regulators are encouraging banks to become more agile in digital transformation. “The collaboration with regulators and fintech startups, if done properly, will shape banking customers’ experience in the new age,” he said.

The value of data

Khaled Talhouni, managing partner of Wamda Capital, led a panel of digital financial services experts where they discussed where the industry sees opportunities for fintech and how to work with digital consumers. On the same panel, Genny Ghanimeh founder and CEO of Pi Slice, a web-based social platform that offers microcredits for microentrepreneurs in the MENA, spoke about data gathering. She said: “Data gathering and data analytics will be at the core of understanding consumer behavior.”

However, many had concerns when it comes to sharing data with fintech startups. In an elaborate discussion with Alexey Raevsky, CTO of Bloomio, a crowdfunding platform, he spoke on the regulations adopted by the EU to make sure the data is secure, hinting to similar strategies that could be adopted in the region.

Funding fintech and giving it a chance

When it comes to the future of funding innovation, both Adnan Omar, board advisor, director regulatory & compliance of Trriple, a UAE-based fintech company that develops mobile solutions enabling digital transformation, and Mirza Ashraf Beg, head of treasury and investment of Commercial Bank of Dubai, agreed that the region and the UAE through platforms like the Fintech Hive in DIFC, as well as individual banks, are not only investing in, but also giving fintech innovators the opportunity to produce platforms that would transform the future of financial services.

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