There are plenty of defining years in the history books, and as 2020 draws to a close, it’s almost certain that the global pandemic will ensure that this year is featured prominently. With events cancelled, launches delayed, and country-wide lockdowns, the way we work has changed forever. Still, for financial technology and surrounding industries, this was also a year of challenge and opportunity.
This December, The Fintech Times is asking industry leaders for their ‘View from the Top’ to gain an insight into the decisions behind the last 12-months. Today, we’re looking at the issue of Open banking in MEA, hearing from Marwan Hachem, Abdulla Almoayed and Brad Hyett on their 2020 thoughts, plus a look ahead to 2021. Will there be a Happy New Year? Read on…
Open banking is a banking practice that provides third-party financial service providers access to consumer financial date from banks and other financial services’ through the use of APIs. It is seeing a particular use boom in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) due to fintech efforts to improve the financial inclusion of the region, where a large proportion of the population is underserved and underbanked. In this View from the Top, companies YAP, Tarabut Gateway and Phos outline their own 2020 experience.
Marwan Hachem is Founder and CEO of YAP, a banking app based in UAE. Knowing first hand the usefulness of Open Banking, he believes that more digital banking services will launch in the future.
“Fintech of tomorrow will do more to make our lives easier. It will aid our decision-making and equally, help us to better understand the choices we make.
“Many neobanks are now launching across Europe and the rest of the world, quickly growing large volume of customers and addressing speed, security and convenience. There is a need for more intuitive money management, which people from all walks of life are rapidly adopting.
“YAP is positioned to become the smarter banking app for the MEA region. Achieving smarter money management is our purpose, ensuring customers satisfy their financial needs through one, easy-to-use app. It is no longer enough to just develop a digital banking application – there is a need to offer seamless customer experience, meeting individualised needs and preferences.
“Evolution is key to achieving long term success, and as an industry, we need to continue advancing. Innovation and improved experience is common-place within the UAE. At YAP we remain committed to users who demand and expect simplified and more intuitive experiences, with their digital banking needs.”
Abdulla Almoayed, Founder and CEO of Tarabut Gateway, the first and largest company licensed open banking platform in MENA. He agrees that technology is playing a steadily rising role in consumers lives.
“Technology is playing an increasingly important role in the work we do, how we communicate, and how we lead our lives. It’s no longer hearsay that technology has taken over the world, it is our new reality.
“If you control the code, you control the world. This is the future that awaits us.
“And while we can’t predict what the future would be, we need to be able to prepare our youth to navigate through these murky waters. As more organisations devote more time to mentoring, they will sow the seeds of a future workforce capable of using technology to change the world and build a better future.
“At Tarabut Gateway we have always been devoted to nurturing young talent and equipping the youth with the needed skills for tomorrow’s world. The series of initiatives we launched this year have been focused on making information accessible and fostering an inclusive and financial culture in the region that stimulates innovation and growth.”
Brad Hyett is the CEO of Phos, a UK based fintech business enabling contactless payment technology for the world’s leading banks and payment businesses. His comments refer to the need for understanding the country-specific nuances of the digitalisation of payments.
“Many countries have shifted their digital transformation projects up their priority list this year in response to the pandemic, including the digitalisation of payments and cashless alternatives. In 2021, we’ll see these projects fully realised and taken advantage of by merchants and consumers alike.
“If we look at North Africa, for instance, there are an array of neo and challenger banks emerging with a mobile-first proposition. This increasing provision of digital banking solutions is affording SMEs in the region, which have typically relied on cash to do business, greater access to mobile money services so that they can better serve their customers.”
“The launch and proliferation of e-wallets has been building this year, but this trend will really take precedence in the world of payments in 2021. The global mobile wallets industry is predicted to jump by almost 50%, to reach a value of $1.47trn amid the Covid-19 pandemic, with more than 1.7bn people using mobile wallets by 2024.
“While most of us will be familiar with Apple Pay and Google Pay, these won’t be the only touchpoints that people have with e-wallets moving forwards. Increasing numbers of companies are developing their own solutions to directly serve the needs of their customers. The majority of smartphones in use today can natively offer this kind of technology so that customers can pay on a website, a mobile app or physically in store.”