Prepare for changes in tech, services, experts urge banks

Manama : More than 400 delegates attended the second Middle East & Africa FinTech Forum in Manama, Bahrain, yesterday.

The forum, under the theme Beyond Disruption and under the patronage of the Central Bank of Bahrain and hosted by Bank ABC and Arab Financial Services (AFS), was held at the Four Seasons, Bahrain Bay.

Governor of the Central Bank of Bahrain inaugurated the conference discussions, while the opening address was presented by Sael Al Waary, Chairman of Arab Financial Services and Deputy Group CEO of Bank ABC.

Rasheed Al Maraj provided his own perspectives on FinTech related issues and the impact of the new financial technology on banking and finance, referring to Bahrain’s proactive role in supporting FinTech initiatives.

In his opening speech, Al Waary illustrated the elemental shift in the way financial services industry is now responding towards FinTech. “Banks have shifted their mind-set and are viewing FinTech and opportunity rather than a threat. More and more banks are embracing FinTech and are catching up very quickly,” he commented.

“Almost US$100 billion has been invested in FinTech globally since 2010. In 2017 alone US$ 27.4bn was invested, an 18 per cent increase from 2016, driven by the surge in USA, UK and India. Moreover, with 50pc of the Kingdom’s population being below the age of 25, there is a crucial need for collaboration between banks and FinTech start-ups, which would combine capital and innovation, economies of scale and agility, customer data and customer experience, regulatory and technical know-how,” Al Waary added.

B Chandrasekhar, CEO Arab Financial Services further told DT News, “This is the second edition of the conference, We believe that Bahrain regulatory is quite favourable towards Fintech. Along with our cloud-based wallet solution, we also launched the first domestic person to person for money transfer in Bahrain. We are working very closely with regulators to bring other firsts to the kingdom. Also, we are looking towards an era where mobile phones will replace plastic cards.”

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