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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

Fintech market set to grow to $2.5 billion in MENA by 2020

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A Fintech Summit, organised by leading regional deal facilitation company Naseba, brought together the Middle East and Africa region’s most prominent Banking, Financial Services and Insurance (BFSI) institutions, technology providers and funders to share the latest trends and disruptive developments transforming the industry. Innovations in the field of RegTech, blockchain, robotics, AI and digital-only banking are fuelling fintech’s rapid growth in the region, participants were told at the event held in Dubai this week.


With a significant amount of capital waiting to be deployed, investment in fintech is expected to remain strong. According to industry forecasts, the Middle East and North Africa region’s financial technology market is predicted to grow by 270 per cent achieving a growth of approximately $125 million a year to reach $2.5 billion in 2022.


The Mena fintech market is currently worth $2bn but increased annual investment will boost the number of fintech start-ups from six in 2005 to around 250 by 2020.


The market’s largest segment is Digital Payments with a total transaction value of $41,447m in 2018.


Total transaction value is expected to show an annual growth rate (CAGR 2018-2022) of 12.8 per cent resulting in the total amount of $67,004m by 2022.


Four countries account for almost 75 per cent of all start-ups in the MENA region — the UAE, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt.


The UAE is the centre of the new frontier with a combination of accelerators, rising investments and cross-industry partnerships. High smartphone penetration, young and tech-savvy people and the government’s support are all turning the region into an attractive hub for fintech.


Alongside that, initiatives like Dubai International Financial Centre’s (DIFC) FinTech Hive, whose start-ups raised over $10 million in funding in 2017, are significantly disrupting the fintech ecosystem in the region.


The panelists from different verticals of the financial services sphere, exchanged their views on fintech’s power to disrupt the financial sector across the MENA region with innovative solutions. Digitalisation of financial services is still the greatest opportunity for fintech with banks being the largest investors. Changes in customer preferences and technological advances have pushed large banks to take a lead in digitalisation in the region followed by Islamic finance.


Urging to unleash the potential of fintech wide across the banking and financial services industry, Naseba’s Production Director Naveen Bharadwaj said: “To evolve with customers’ preferred trends, stay ahead of competition and achieve a cashless economy, all major banks and financial institutions are placing huge strategic bets on blockchain, robotics, artificial intelligence and predictive analytics under the umbrella of Fintech.”


Max Liu, Co-founder and CEO of EMQ said, “The whole payments ecosystem is undergoing significant transformation with the rise of local and cross-border cashless payments underpinned by a tech-savvy population. For this reason, enterprises will increasingly require a settlement network that streamlines cross-border payments that are low-cost, secure, and real-time.”


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