Highlights in Fintech in the Middle East and Africa: Events and Initiatives October 2020 by Richie Santosdiaz for The FinTech Times
Fintech Middle East & Africa

Highlights in Fintech in the Middle East and Africa: Events and Initiatives October 2020

The FinTech Times highlights some of the key events and initiatives that happened in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) in October. Due to the pandemic, as is the rest of the world, events and initiative have mostly went virtual.  Here are some of them:

Yalla FinTech

Fintech Galaxy and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) launched the virtual hackathon for financial inclusion and regulatory collaboration in the Arab region, the Yalla Fintech 2020 Hackathon.

Yalla Fintech aims to encourage and enables innovators, regulators, and other ecosystem partners from the Arab region to remotely collaborate and crowdsource solutions for key issues in financial inclusion that have become priority issues during COVID-19: Digital Lending; Digital Financial Awareness; and Know-Your-Customer for Simplified Customer On-boarding. Winning proposals in each theme will be awarded prize money of €5,000 to kick start the scaling of the solution.

Fintech Saudi’s Fintech Accelerator

Fintech Accelerator was launched, a unique innovation and entrepreneurship programme. It is powered by Flat6Labs, a Middle East regional startup programme and seed investment management company that fosters and invests in bright and passionate entrepreneurs with innovative and high-growth potential startups. The intensive 3-month program brings together Fintech Saudi’s market reach and Flat6Labs’ resources to provide up to ten fintechs with the best practices, resources, and tools they need to develop and scale their solution-driven businesses.

Global AI Summit Held Virtually on October 21-22, 2020 under the Theme “AI for the Good of Humanity”

Under the patronage of His Royal Highness the Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister, and Minister of Defense, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi Data & AI Authority (SDAIA) held the Global AI Summit virtually on October 21-22, 2020. Bringing together some of the world’s leading decision-makers, technologists, innovators, and investors, the Summit was a global platform to explore what the new global era means to AI, how AI’s transformational potential can be best used to create a better future for all, and what this means for policy and decision makers interested in leveraging that potential, for the good of humanity.

There were several fintech and wider tech related events that happened in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region IMAGE SOURCE GETTY

Seamless Future of Fintech Summit

Co-hosted by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) and the G20 Saudi Secretariat as part of The International Conferences Program, honoring the G20 Saudi presidency year 2020, Seamless Future of Fintech Summit took place on the October 19 – 20th. Held on a digital event platform, the keynote conference was built around four big themes of Payments and Banking Innovation, Financial Regulation, Fintech and Financial Inclusion. Terrapinn Middle East as the main organiser.

Fintech Academy in Egypt

Fintech Academy is a comprehensive program on financial technologies designed for those who want to make a difference, brought by London-based Knowledge Officer and German-based GIZ. The FinTech Academy is a 4-months online program that will aim to cover Fintech Fundamentals: Banking and Future of Payments, Applying Technology in Fintech, Infrastructure & Regulation, Digital Identity & Privacy and Blockchain & Cryptocurrencies. In addition to that, participants will cover 4 main Entrepreneurship components/modules: Startups Fundamentals, Product Discovery, Business Fundamentals and Investment Cycle. The programme was looking for applicants up until the 19th of October.

Alphacode Incubate Programme in South Africa

Launched by Rand Merchant Investments in 2015, AlphaCode identifies, partners & grows next generation financial services entrepreneurs through incubation, acceleration, collaboration and investment.

They have opened applications for the next AlphaCode Incubate programme which aims to identify, partner and grow innovative financial services entrepreneurs in South Africa. Applicants were accepted until the 26th of October. The Incubate programme has disbursed R30 million ($1.82 million USD) in funding to 31 black-owned financial services businesses over the past five years. According to Alphacode it is viewed as South Africa’s most prestigious fintech startup initiative.

Ghana-Nigeria Fintech Summit 2020

Ghana-Nigeria Fintech Summit 2020 was a virtual two-day summit for stakeholders in Ghana, Nigeria, and across the Fintech global community. It aimed to have over 10,000 professional viewership around the world. The summit provided an avenue to take stock and engage and discuss challenges and opportunities encountered and channel a platform for the partnership to bring collaborative solutions; it was held from the 14-15th October.

Dubai International Financial Centre hosts cohort for the Young Economist Programme

Dubai International Financial Centre hosts inaugural cohort of Emirati students from the Federal Youth Authority’s Young Economist Programme
Dubai International Financial Centre hosts inaugural cohort of Emirati students from the Federal Youth Authority’s Young Economist Programme IMAGE SOURCE PROVIDED

Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) has welcomed the first batch of Emirati students from the Young Economist Programme, an initiative by the Federal Youth Authority. Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council, the programme is a first of its kind in the Arab world and aims to build the capabilities of youth to become future leaders in business and economics.

The briefing was attended by the first cohort of 50 young people who were selected to join the prestigious programme. The event was held in DIFC’s FinTech Hive at Gate Avenue and featured sessions from speakers including H.E. Essa Kazim, Governor of DIFC and members of DIFC’s senior management.

Road to recovery: Fintech innovations for the township economy

Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in South Africa have been severely affected by COVID-19 – from informal traders to spaza shops, these businesses form a critical part of the country’s township economy, but they are excluded from relief packages due to the informal nature of their businesses. Innovative fintech solutions can create the right market linkages to help these businesses improve their financial resilience and enable greater access to financial services for them. As well, these fintech solutions are agile and customer-centric, which make them well-positioned to respond to the needs and demands of these businesses. The event hosted by The Catalyst Fund via webinar was on the 15th October.

Dubai Startup Hub Launched its fifth series of networking events

Dubai Startup Hub, an initiative of Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in cooperation with Virtuzone, recently kicked off the fifth edition of its weekly networking series, bringing together stakeholders from the Dubai startup ecosystem and features inspirational talks led by successful entrepreneurs and industry innovators.

The 10-week series, comprising virtual sessions running between October 7th and December 16th, 2020, puts the spotlight on a wide variety of sectors and timely topics, including global expansion, fintech, healthcare, delivery, logistics and transportation, food and beverage, talent, education, social impact, sustainability, and travel, tourism and hospitality. Separately, The FinTech Times also interviewed Natalia Sycheva, Manager of Entrepreneurship at Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), Switzerland and Kenya Launch a New Initiative to Govern BigFintech for Greater Good

Regulators, United Nations (UN) agencies, market actors and officials from 10 countries gathered virtually on October 9th to launch the Dialogue on Global Digital Finance Governance, implementing one of the key recommendations of the UNSG Digital Finance Task Force, to catalyse international and corporate governance innovations to ensure BigFintechs benefit all. According to Achim Steiner, cochair of the Digital Finance Task Force and UNDP Administrator, “Many positive developments have happened that align fintech with sustainable development, which need to be built upon. BigFinTechs present a different challenge in that their size and scope present much greater potential for both positive and negative impacts. Strengthening the opportunities and mitigating the risks with governance innovations will ensure that BigFinTechs and fintech follow a similar path in supporting the greater good.”

Nordic-African Business Webcast 2020 Told Africa Will Prioritise Digitisation Across Sectors

A recent webinar was organised by the Norwegian-African Business Association, H.E. Dr Amani Abou-Zeid, Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, participated in the high level opening of the ‘Nordic-African Business Webcast 2020’, together with H.E. Ine Marie Eriksen Søreide, Minister of Foreign Affairs of NorwayMr. Raymond Carlsen, CEO of Scatec Solarand and Mr. Samalia Zubairu, President and CEO of Africa Finance Corporation. The panel discussed opportunities for Nordic-Africa partnership and investments. The AU Commissioner highlighted that despite the Covid-19 crisis, it provides an opportunity to address challenges in Africa, notably digitalisation, renewable energy and skills for the future.

Decentralised Finance Global Summit 2020

Decentralized Finance Global Summit 2020 is a four-day online conference with 55+ global experts sharing their knowledge about the future of the fast growing decentralized finance industry. The Summit was held from the 13 till 16 of October.

World Blockchain Summit Dubai

The 17th global edition & 4th annual of the World Blockchain Summit in Dubai happened on the 14th of October. World Blockchain Summit is a global series of elite gatherings that take place in 16+ destinations across the world. It aims to bring together thought leaders and pioneers from the industry to discuss and deliberate the trends around blockchain technology and investment opportunities for cryptocurrencies and digital assets. The summit gathers government authorities, institutional investors, family offices, hedge funds, asset allocators, crypto entrepreneurs & IT leaders from the burgeoning ecosystem.

Annual Investment Meeting (AIM) – Dubai

AIM Digital is the largest deal-making virtual platform for the global investment community launched by the UAE Ministry of Economy and the Annual Investment Meeting. With the theme “Reimagining Economies: The Move Towards a Digital, Sustainable and Resilient Future,” this major initiative happened on 20 – 22 October 2020. It is held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai.

BankRevolution Summit

BankRevolution Summit brought together the apex from the Middle East’s BFSI and Fintech fraternity to address the new normal and the way forward in bringing sustainability to the industry and national economies.

Gathering over 500 professionals virtually, this event, from 20-21st October, aimed to evaluate the current global crisis and brainstorm development strategies and solutions for the challenges that the sector is facing currently.

Dubai Economy organised the ‘Future Economy Lab’ to discuss post COVID-19 opportunities in Cashless Economy

Dubai Economy brought together major stakeholders in the cashless economy ecosystem at its latest Future Economy Lab hack (workshop) as part of its efforts to address the COVID-19 challenge and design the best approaches to optimising the opportunities presented by the new normal in the post-pandemic phase.

Mohammed Shael Al Saadi, CEO Corporate Strategic Affairs in Dubai Economy commented, “Digital payments have assumed greater significance during this pandemic phase. Industries and societies adopting cashless payment faster has renewed the urgency for government to work with all stakeholders to implement an inclusive and effective digital payments system that will drive new economic value. Our hack was aimed to co-create new initiatives to meet the UAE’s vision of being one among the top 10 cashless payment economies.”

The hack, facilitated with Frost & Sullivan, attracted 60 attendees including experts from banks, fintech companies, payment network/scheme providers, payment acquirers, other financial institutions, government entities, and academia.

Manama Entrepreneurship Week (Bahrain)

The Sixth Edition of Manama Entrepreneurship Week was held from 18 to 22 October 2020, hosting a variety of virtual events, workshops and networking sessions. The event is under the patronage of Sheikh Hisham bin Abdul Rahman Al Khalifa, Governor of the Capital Governorate.

AfricArena and Ozow launch hackathon challenge

African and US development financiers reaffirm commitment to attracting private sector capital to Africa

The continent’s largest development finance institutions emphasised a sustained and collaborative approach among development partners to scale up project development activities, will boost the number of bankable projects attracting investor interest and contribute to closing the infrastructure finance gap in Africa.

They spoke during a panel event to discuss their organisations’ role in post-COVID-19 environment, convened on October 16, as part of a day-long public forum on investing in Africa’s future, organised by the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) and the Atlantic Council. The event had over 2000 participants.

The Fintech Era of GCC – driving change from the legacy system to a tech-enabled future

EROE recently had a webinar. In this episode of Business Transformation Explained it was joined by Triska Hamid, Editorial Director at Wamda, Jon Edward Santillan founder of Denarii Cash and Milind Singh founder of Rise and XARE in a thought-provoking discussion about the fintech industry of the GCC.



  • Executive Economic Development Advisor (Emerging Markets) | Contributor

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