Dubai Fintech Summit 2024
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Dubai FinTech Summit 2024: Highlights from the Two-Day DIFC Event

From AI and blockchain to sustainable investing and digital economies, the second edition of the Dubai FinTech Summit has put the spotlight on emerging fintech trends and their potential to drive financial progress in the region.

The two-day event, organised by Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) – the global financial centre in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia region, took place at the Madinat Jumeirah Conference Centre and it was certainly a bustling, tightly-packed affair, significantly building on the momentum from last year’s inaugural event.

DIFC Innovation Hub CEO Mohammad Alblooshi highlighted the increased interest in this year’s gathering, with participant numbers soaring from 5,000 to 8,000, hailing from over 100 countries. The number of speakers tripled from 100 to over 300, while the number of exhibitors doubled from 100 to about 200.

H.H. Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance and President of DIFC, also opened up the Summit with some equally impressive stats on the growth of fintech in the region.

“Dubai has rapidly emerged as a global fintech hub,” he said. “Dubai has witnessed a surge in fintech investment in recent years, with total fintech funding, reaching $2.3billion in 2023. We saw unprecedented growth in 2023 with fintech and innovation as the fastest growing sector with 902 registered companies, a 31 per cent increase from the previous year.”

He added that the widespread global participation in the summit reflects Dubai’s growing position as a “magnet for investment, talent and innovation in the fintech sector.”

Echoing these sentiments, Arif Amiri, CEO of the DIFC Authority, further elaborated on Dubai’s expanding influence as a comprehensive global financial centre. “DIFC has truly become a global hub of global and regional banks, asset and wealth managers from all over the world, insurance and reinsurance firms, as well as family offices and supporting firms,” he said.

Dubai Fintech Summit

What we learned from the speakers

During one fireside chat, Nik Storonsky, founder and CEO of Revolut, outlined how the neobank is keen to expand its presence in the region, leveraging Dubai’s infrastructure and investor-friendly policies. While in another fireside chat, we learned that Julius Baer, a Swiss bank operating within the DIFC, currently has no immediate plans to appoint a permanent CEO. Nic Dreckmann, the interim chief executive, suggested the importance of patience in the search for the right candidate, saying: “I think we take the time that it takes.”

A panel featuring Craig Moore, founder and CEO of peer-to-peer lending platform Beehive, Ola Doudin, CEO and co-founder of BitOasis, a digital asset exchange, Mirna Sleiman, founder and CEO of Fintech Galaxy, the fintech community platform, and Tariq Sheikh, founder of Postpay, a fintech solution provider, shared experiences and insights on establishing in the Gulf region.

They all praised Dubai’s appeal for fintech startups, noting its supportive regulations, diverse talent pool and thriving expat and investor communities. They also highlighted Dubai’s lifestyle benefits, including its tax-free environment, multiculturalism, and vibrant expat community, making it an ideal hub for fintech innovation and growth, with Sleiman noting:  “Nothing beats the lifestyle that Dubai offers, especially for families.”

In a keynote address, Hany Rashwan, co-founder and CEO of 21.Co, an issuer of crypto ETPs, discussed the transformative potential of cryptocurrency, emphasising its ability to enable trustless transactions and programmable money. He highlighted Bitcoin’s stability and role as digital gold, while also pointing out two areas of growth: the tokenisation of assets and the expansion of programmable money beyond Bitcoin.

While Patrycja Oselkowska, a partner at Deloitte Digital gave digital banks food for thought, highlighting four key elements for banks to earn trust: humanity, transparency, capability and reliability.

Dubai Fintech Summit
Dubai Fintech Summit 2024
Talking about AI

During our chats at The Fintech Times stand at the Dubai Fintech Summit 2024, there was the chance to delve into one of the sector’s hottest topics – artificial intelligence.

In a discussion on the impact of generative AI, particularly how it has expanded beyond technical or specialised fields, Vanessa Colella, global head of innovation and digital partnerships at Visa, said: “I think what’s interesting about generative AI is it’s taken AI from the technical, or maybe nerdier, parts of the world where people say ‘I have an algorithm and I need to tune this or I need to do that’ to the brains of everyone to think ‘Wait a minute, what if we could do this better? What if we could do that better?’.

“So at Visa, we think not just about risk and fraud, but think about loyalty, about hyper personalised shopping experiences and about a different kind of customer care.”

While, AI technology service company Dyna.Ai’s chairman Tomas Skoumal, said: “We think that AI is going to revolutionise all industries, just like paper went to computers, computers is going to AI.”

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AI launch

Talking of Singapore-based Dyna.Ai, it chose the Dubai Fintech Summit 2024 to launch its operations across the Middle East, Africa, Europe and Asia, as well as the US, as part of a global expansion.

Dyna.Ai’s AI platform is designed to provide enterprise-level generative AI models featuring data curation, advanced customisation, retrieval-augmented generation and enhanced performance. It includes two solutions: Dyna Athena for text-to-speech, language and speech processing, and Dyna Avatar for digital human interactions.

Both solutions offer LLM-powered, task-specific solutions tailored for banks, fintechs, and various businesses, enhancing natural language interactions to make conversations “more realistic and engaging”.

“We are thrilled to kickstart our global expansion from the Dubai Fintech Summit,” explained Dyna.Ai chairman Skoumal. “Dyna.Ai not only provides professional AI solutions in the financial field, but also offers a unique and innovative RaaS (Result as a Service) business model, Dyna Ai supports pay for performance and provides services that can generate business results for banks, insurance, wealth and fintechs.

Palm recognition

Astra Tech, a consumer technology holding group in the MENA region, announced the launch of Palm Pay through its Central Bank of the UAE licensed fintech subsidiary PayBy.

Palm Pay is a contactless palm recognition service that enables customers to hover their palm over a device to make payments – a first for the region.

“The UAE is now home to a first-of-its-kind technology that simplifies and secures how our customers interact with the world around them,” said Abdallah Abu Sheikh, founder of Astra Tech and CEO of Botim. “Palm Pay exemplifies our drive to bring revolutionary technologies to the region and  As the sole provider of this technology, we are proud to set new standards in the fintech sector and contribute to the UAE’s reputation as a global technology hub.”

Dubai Fintech Summit
Dubai Fintech Summit 2024
Cross-border payment partnership

During the summit, TerraPay, a money transfers company, unveiled a partnership with bank challenger Multipass, to enhance cross-border payment solutions for corporate clients. Multipass will tap into TerraPay’s global payments network, enabling broader reach and local payouts in multiple currencies.

Rami Chedid, CEO of Multipass for the UAE and the Middle East, highlighted the strategic importance of this alliance for providing secure, fast payment solutions to international entrepreneurs, particularly as Multipass expands in the UAE and beyond.

He also highlighted that Multipass has begun the process to obtain a financial services licence from the Dubai Financial Services Authority, with operations expected to start soon, enhancing the global payment capabilities for UAE-based businesses from day one.

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