Saudi Arabia sets the bar for a world-leading fintech scene as LEAP23 showcases the Kingdom’s very best innovations throughout the conference’s third day.
Saudi Arabia’s sight for Vision 2030 and the development of its fintech sector has never been clearer or closer than it was during the LEAP23 technology conference’s third day of events taking place in Riyadh this week.
The Saudi Vision 2030 outlines a future of economic diversification for the Kingdom, a total reform of its service sectors that will define its position on the world stage. Fintech forms a key pillar of this strategy, and as LEAP23’s agenda and line-up of speakers continue to demonstrate, the KSA’s trajectory in this industry is only getting higher.
Wednesday’s agenda was dedicated to the discussion of the most cutting-edge fintech concepts to emerge from the Kingdom and around the world.
Fintech takes to the stage
The numerous fintech-focussed stands from across the Riyadh Front EXPO Centre’s 10 halls and tents were complimented by a cohort of industry figures, who ascended onto the orbital talk stage to discuss the integral role of fintech in the success of the Saudi Vision 2030.
Notable discussions include Petr Stransky, the CEO and founder of the dispute recovery platform iCEIBA, who examined the convergence of digital assets and traditional finance and Nils Andersen Röed, who as the deputy head of financial crime compliance at Binance, followed on a similar note with a look into the relationship between cryptocurrency, compliance and security.
Following these sessions, Simon Hardie, CEO and founder of the fintech data company Findexable, moderated a panel analysis of the application of digital identities and risk architecture. Then, Semih Kumluk, the digital training senior manager at PwC’s Academy Middle East, shared his perspective on the growing use of artificial intelligence (AI) in finance.
Saudi Arabia goes for fintech gold
Reflecting on Saudi Arabia’s development of its fast-growing fintech industry, in line with its Vision 2030, Hardie recognises that “there’s genuine momentum here.”
“Saudi Arabia is really pushing ahead with trying to build an ecosystem here,” he told The Fintech Times. “There’s lots of innovation, and it may be early stage, but that’s just the natural evolution of the ecosystem.”
“We’re seeing lots of venture money coming in, mainly from the region, but also increasingly from outside as well, and I think that’s very exciting,” Hardie adds. “There are over 100 fintechs now founded and based in the Kingdom, and in 2021, $400million was invested from venture funds.”
This excitement was later echoed on the CODE stage, where moderator Nezar Alhaidar, director of Fintech Saudi, an organisation that acts as a catalyst for the development of the fintech domain in the Kingdom, was joined by Khaled Albasias of the Saudi Central Bank (SAMA), Nayef Alabdulwahed, director of the Capital Market Authority (CMA) and Nasser Alajaji, assistant director general at the Financial Sector Development Programme, who together provided a fascinating insight into what Vision 2030 is and will achieve and the drivers that will play an integral role in its success.
New ways of working with Leda Glyptis
Excitement filled the fintech stage throughout Wednesday’s proceedings, but it reached a climax when Leda Glyptis took the stage to discuss her latest book.
The revered chief client officer of the cloud-native banking platform, 10x Banking, delighted the audience with valuable insight into her latest work; ‘Bankers Like Us: Dispatches from an Industry in Transition‘.
This book, as well as Glyptis’ corresponding session at LEAP23, pinpoints the pain points currently hindering the digital transformation of the worldwide banking industry. Glyptis argues that to take banks to the next stage of their digital journey, they must change their habits, mindsets and leadership strategies.
Bankers Like Us chronicles the shared experience of the banking industry, including the author’s own trench credentials, to present an overview of how corporate cultures must evolve and why so many are falling at the first hurdle of digital transformation.
Concluding her session, Glyptis held a highly-anticipated book signing; so highly-anticipated in fact, that she was almost immediately swamped by audience members yearning for even a slither of the fascinating insight she continues to provide to the industry.
Speaking to The Fintech Times after the signing, Glyptis reaffirmed that she wants readers to know that “change is actually possible without leading a revolution.”
“You can make changes at an individual level, at a team level, and of course, with big material changes in an organisation or at a community level,” she continues. “They are intentional and they’re possible and you don’t need to lead a revolution. You can start small and go big but it’s always down to the individual making choices.”
Among the stands
A venture into any of LEAP23’s 10 expansive halls proved that the KSA’s fintech scene is brighter and more promising than ever. Industry players from around the world attended the event and shared how their innovations aligned with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.
Established in 2014 Telr is a Dubai-based online payment gateway with offices in Singapore, the UAE, India and Saudi Arabia.
The gateway enables non-face-to-face transaction capabilities for merchants to transact and accept payments from their customers online.
The company announced the formation of a strategic partnership with urpay digital wallet to allow Telr merchants in Saudi Arabia to accept urpay as a payment method for customers buying goods and services online.
“At LEAP23, we’re showcasing our state-of-the-art technology and new services and innovations,” Telr founder and CEO, Khalil Alami, told The Fintech Times.
“We’re here to connect with our merchant base and with potential merchants, clients, investors, partners and partnerships,” continues Alami. “Telr is happy to be here and happy to support the Vision 2030 of Saudi Arabia where we work a lot in order to reach 70 per cent of cashless payments.”
Founded two decades ago, eBOS is an information technology company based in Cyprus. Its commercial and customisable self-constructed WiseBOS platform automates regulatory technology solutions for clients, including governance, electronic customer verification, transaction monitoring and anti-money laundering compliance; among others.
In addition to this, the company remains heavily engaged with its research and development portfolio, including projects relating to the advancement of 5G, 6G and AI.
Although eBOS currently serves clients across the European market, its geographical location made its attendance at LEAP23 in the Middle East a natural step in the expansion of its services.
Speaking on the event and its growing presence in the Kingdom, Dr. Stelios Christofi, the managing director and founder of eBOS, described the organisation of LEAP23 as “fantastic,” adding that it has brought a high quality of business partners with an even higher interest in their products.
“This is very important for us,” continues Christofi, “because when you go to exhibitions like this and you invest a lot of money, and you want to see quality interest from people. We’re very happy and the conference has exceeded our expectations.”
Also with its eyes on the fintech stage, Saudi start-up Bonokey provides a consolidated platform for loan price comparison; removing obstacles to funding for loan seekers in the process.
Eliminating the strenuous process of price comparison between different banks, the platform offers a total view of market availability in funding and loan services.
“Right now there is no way to know what’re your best deals alone,” Nabil Alrokayh, the company’s CTO, explains. “So if you are asking about the APR, which is the best one, you have to visit all banks separately. This process requires a large amount of effort and guidance, and you may not find what you’re looking for through this legacy process.”
At a time when small businesses require streamlined services that provide a clear-cut answer to capital, Bonokey is seeking to make this once-difficult process as simple and swift as possible.