Contactless Payment
AI Fintech Middle East & Africa

How Fintech Is Helping Us With Co-VID 19 and Further Push Towards Digitalisation

Fintech can help society at present across various aspects of our lives in times of the recent pandemic that is Co-VID 19. This is all part of a wider digitalisation that has been happening and further accelerated in 2020. 


2020 has pushed much of the world to suddenly go digital in light of the coronavirus Co-VID 19. Prior to the pandemic though there has been a global trend in digitalisation. Nevertheless, industries from education to even the hospitality industry have went online, when possible; fintech has a huge role now more than ever to help the world go through our current times.


Direct customer users are relying more on fintech. Many personal and professional transactions have grown since Co-VID 19. End of March, for example, from a research from financial advisory deVere Group, the use of fintech apps in Europe surged 72% the past week. After the limitation of people’s movements the use of cash in the UK aka a lockdown dropped by 50%. This is according to the UK ATM network Link.

In the Middle East and Africa (MEA), one in nine transactions at point of sale (POS) are now contactless. Mastercard recently increased its contactless payment by more than 66% to 500 million AED ($136 million USD) across MEA. Prior to the pandemic, last year, Mastercard saw a 200 percent increase in contactless payment in MEA. Globally, contactless by 2025 is expected to grow to $18 billion USD, which is almost double what it is now this year.


The last time a global health pandemic of this scale happened was most likely the Spanish Flu over 100 years ago. There is where Artificial Intelligence (AI) can step in. AI has the capability to crunch data and potential analysis and outputs to help create predictions or formulate a next step.

Unlike back then, AI in its form exists and the data it can analyse are helping governments. These include countries in Asia like Singapore and China as well as in the Middle East. They are able to allow for contact-tracing to help monitor cases and overall contain and control the virus. For example, there is an application in Bahrain called ‘BeAware.’ Residents can track proximity to someone with Co-VID 19, using location data alerting people should they approach someone with a known case.


Big data is playing a huge role helping combat Co-VID 19. As mentioned earlier, for AI to work there needs to be the raw data. This require relevant IT infrastructure and big data capabilities not many governments are up-to-date with. For instance, surveillance cameras like CCTV and mobile tracking are significant sources of big data, which its information could later be utilised in containing the virus and promoting social distancing.

Beyond just combating the coronavirus, big data plays a huge role in being able to access information. Particularly now that millions across the world are working from home from home. Those who do not have the big data and other IT infrastructures in place prior to Co-VID 19 are finding it challenging. In parts of Asia like Japan, the concept of working from home is still relatively a new concept. This could explain why many companies nor government departments are suitably adapted to allowing that, where many who in theory can operate remotely do not even have laptops, as well as IT and other systems. In the United States, there has been difficulty and delay for many Americans filing for unemployment benefits. Out-of-date systems government systems written in the old COBOL computer language is a factor.

The challenges Co-VID 19 has brought to our daily lives is clearly evident. Nonetheless, aspects of fintech such as the customer service experience, AI and big data are helping us. From buying our next grocery run safely to helping contain the virus, fin-tech will most likely continue its wider importance in digitalisation.


The article is an original op-ed written by Richie Santosdiaz



  • Executive Economic Development Advisor (Emerging Markets) | Contributor

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