The UAE has firmly established itself as ecosystem for Fintech startups and is leading an industry tech-driven revolution, according to the Executive Vice President of DIFC Fintech Hive, the MEASA region’s first and largest Fintech accelerator.
In her welcome address on day three of the inaugural edition Fintech Surge, which runs at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) until Wednesday, 20th October, Raja Al Mazrouei highlighted the pioneering approach of the UAE in driving the industry forward.
“We have witnessed a revolution in the financial services sector led by the UAE,” she said. “We have also seen three digital banks that have been licensed and announced by the UAE Central Bank and we cannot wait for them to come to market and increase the competition between financial institutions that are either challenging themselves internally, shifting business models or looking at opportunities where they focus on core products and enable Fintech startups to access all their technology and innovation.”
DIFC Fintech Hive has accelerated over 120 Fintech startups through different programmes, has launched 75 proof of concepts and over 40 products used in financial institutions in the UAE since launching in 2017.
Mazrouei also highlighted the efforts made in the country to empower women in the financial services sector, referencing the Fintech Hive’s AccelerateHer programme, which had so far supported over 60 women with access to mentors and leaders across the banking and financial services ecosystem.
Fintech delivers ‘frictionless’ experience: Stripe
Elsewhere, the changing face of the financial services sector was in focus. Kunal Choitram of global technology company Stripe, underscored the potential that embedded finance offers to both consumers and brands.
He said: “Integrating financial services into new environments and ecosystems will offer a frictionless consumer experience in a range of areas such as money movement, cards, lending and more. The two key drivers in this, technology and regulation, have democratised access to more and more modular financial services. What started off as Fintechs unbundling services from banks one by one, has turned into Fintechs rebundling new services into a platform or technical play.
“Embedded finance offers a very simple connectivity through API and produce sets – essentially an infrastructure that adds value to the end customer by offering new and frictionless experiences, adds value to companies by allowing them to offer financial services and diversify revenue streams, and adds value to the finance ecosystem by accelerating the digitisation of payments.”
The ‘tipping point’ of bank branches
Philip King, Global Head of Retail at ADIB (Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank), discussed the important role the humble bank branch can still play.
He said: “In retail banking we are all hearing about the death of the branch. Our frank view is that we are at a tipping point, where the branch experience won’t disappear completely but will evolve. 70% of customers are digitally active - they interact with our digital mobile account daily or weekly. We have registered 13 million transactions per month on the app, five million financial and eight million non- financial so we have a customer base that is more digitally empowered and enabled than any generation before.
“But going back to the branch, if you are used to acting digitally through the app, you are used to a simple, fast and convenient process. We have to redesign the branch to keep credibility and deliver on that promise of simple, fast and convenient processes – they need to deliver exactly the same proposition to the customer.”