Leading regional bankers and technology leaders convened at the MEA Finance Banking Technology Summit and Awards held on May 19, 2022 at the Armani Hotel, Burj Khalifa in Dubai. The one-day summit with the theme “Continuing Innovation in Banking and Finance” analyzed the latest developments in banking technology and the prominent issues confronting banks and financial institutions in the Middle East and Africa.

Fifty-three industry leaders and speakers joined over 400 attendees at the high-level gathering which was formally opened by Imane El Majdoubi, Director, Financial Services Industry-UAE, Microsoft. Raja Al Mazrouei, EVP at DIFC FinTech Hive delivered the keynote address.

The Summit commenced with a panel debate on Open Banking, Expecting Exponential Growth to Continue with speakers Ali Imran, Head of Digital Services & Transaction Banking, Commercial Bank of Dubai; Dr. Nouran Youssef, Senior Financial Sector Specialist, Arab Monetary Fund; Peter Smith, Head of Policy and Strategy, DFSA; Vivek Porwal, SVP, Consulting & Banking Practice Head, Quality Kiosk Technologies; Saud Al Dhawyani, Chief Technology Officer, Emirates NBD; Abe Karar, Chief Product & Innovation Officer, Fintech Galaxy; and Ahmed Giyab, Business Development Manager, Loxon; with Mohamed Roushdy, Founder, Fintech Bazaar, as moderator. The panel looked into industry-led solutions and regulatory scopes of Open Banking that are ideal for the region with respect to Open Banking practices in larger markets.

This was followed with a Microsoft presentation by Yasar Yilmaz, Director-Head of Financial Services MEA at Microsoft, Around the Banking World in 8 minutes: What Banks Have Been Up To?, which highlighted technology advancements, evolving customer expectations, and regulatory mandates that banks and FIs currently need to integrate into their digital transformation.

The next panel discussed The Digitisation of Wealth Management: Can Premium Service Be Maintained or Even Heightened? with speakers Anand Krishnan, Director – Head of Technology, Emirates Investment Bank; Anthony Habis, Managing Director, Head of Middle East & Africa, BNY Mellon; Dinesh Sharma, Managing Director & Head of Personal Banking & Wealth Management – Middle East, Citi; Ayesha Abbas, Managing Director and Head of Affluent Priority & Premium Banking, Standard Chartered UAE; Daniel Robinson, Head of Wealth & Personal Banking, HSBC; and Damian Grice, Chief Operating Officer, Greenstone Equity Partners, with Arjun Singh, Head of Financial Services – MENA, Arthur D. Little, as moderator. The discussion focused on financial solutions that empower wealth managers to offer new market-tested business models and microservices that cater to the investment needs of a new generation of investors.

Management, protection, and control of data remain to be critical areas banks and FIs must consistently safeguard. Peter Tanny D’Souza, Regional Sales Manager at Thales, presented Data Security for a Zero Trust World, and shared existing digital security solutions such as Cloud protection and licensing that global financial institutions are currently using and benefiting from.

The afternoon session started with a discussion on Competitors, Vendors, and Partners: The Blurring Line where speakers Devid Jegerson, Head of Customer Experience & Platform Development, National Bank of Fujairah; Ahmed Al Naqbi, Chief Executive Officer, Emirates Development Bank; George Hojeige, Chief Executive Officer, Virtuzone;  Sriranga Sampathkumar, VP & General Manager – Middle East & Africa, Infosys; Anirudha Panse, MD & Head of Trade Finance Product Innovation, First Abu Dhabi Bank; Balaji Viswanathan, MD & CEO, Expleo Solutions Ltd., discussed how banks can gain a competitive edge through partnerships with solution providers, and determined how future collaboration may still protect banks from new entrants and regulatory intricacies. This discussion was moderated by Angela Halawi, Strategic Account Lead, Financial Services, Microsoft.

Advancements in cross-border payments have prompted banking and technology leaders to examine the region’s preparedness to adopt Blockchain-powered cross-border payments facilitation. Speakers Anand Sampath, Head of GTB Payments & Receivables & Client Implementation, First Abu Dhabi Bank; Mohammed Wassim Khayata, Founder & CEO, Al Maryah Community Bank; Mohit Gupta, Director – Commercialization Lead, FI Cross Border Services, EEMEA, Mastercard; Olivier Crespin, CEO, Zand; Domenico Scaffidi, Vice President, Global Industry & Regulatory Affairs, Volante; Naushad Contractor, CEO, Fable Fintech; with moderator Naim Alame, Senior Executive Financial Services, Accenture, shared their insights on the panel topic Assessing Existing Cross-Border Payment Infrastructure.

Delving deeper into digital payments, speakers Vincent Kilcoyne, EVP, Head of Product Management, SmartStream; Kartik Taneja, EVP, Head of Payments & Consumer Lending | Chairman – Neopay, Mashreq; Cem Soydemir, Senior Payments Expert | GTM – MENAT, SWIFT; Kazim Kirmani, Managing Director & Head of Products and Data, Magnati; Balaji Muthu, Executive Director, Mindgate; Mohit Aery, Regional Director, Payment Gateway Services – EEMEA, Mastercard; with moderator Shafique Ibrahim, Digital Transformation & Payment Leader, Walvat, discussed Facing the Challenges of the Changing Payments Landscape in the Middle East & Africa, highlighting solutions to address the volatility of the payments market in the region.

As fintech continues to change the banking landscape, retail banks in the region are gaining their competitive edge through deployment of constant innovation.

However, the challenge of remaining resilient against future disruption remains. The panel discussion on How Can Technology Help Give Banks an Edge in Retail Banking? with speakers Amit Malhotra, General Manager – Personal Banking Group, Commercial Bank of Dubai; Saqib Khan, Regional Head, Middle East, Backbase; Sanjay Malhotra, Chief Consumer Banking Officer, Dubai Islamic Bank; Tarek Soubra, Chief Technology Officer, Al Maryah Community Bank; Marwan Abouzeid, Principal Solutions Consultant, Finastra; Imane El Majdoubi, Director – Financial Services Industry – UAE, Microsoft; and moderator Neale Croutear-Foy, CTO-Digital Banking, Apex EDB, examined the mutual gains for both retail banks and solutions providers as they continue their collaboration while protecting their spot in the competition.

Following the panel debate was a presentation on Request To Pay on Real Time Payments by Guhan Muthusamy, Co-Founder, Mindgate. Guhan discussed how Request to Pay (RtP) on Real time Payments (RTP) can help banks on C2B and B2B transactions.

The last panel debate, New Challenges and Recent Success, the Emerging Landscape in Banking Technology, presented banks’ recent successes and analyzed potential pitfalls that may deflect the digital transformation trajectory of banks and FIs. Mohammed Abdel Razek, Chief Tech & OPs Officer – Africa Middle East, Standard Chartered Bank; Shankar Garg, Region Head – Middle East and Africa, Xebia; Srinivasan Sampath, Acting Chief Technology Officer, First Abu Dhabi Bank; Mamoun Alhomssey, Chief Information Officer, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank; Lakhwinder Singh, Pre-Sales Manager, META, Thales; and Neale Croutear-Foy, CTO-Digital Banking, Apex EDB as moderator, discussed key challenges in today’s digital environment and how banks can remain resilient amid emerging trends in banking technology.

MEA Finance Banking Technology Summit 2022 was sponsored by Microsoft as Platinum Sponsor; Backbase, Finastra, Infosys, Mindgate, SWIFT, and Thales as Gold Sponsors; Expleo, Fable Fintech, Loxon, Mambu, QualityKiosk Technologies, SmartStream, and Volante as Silver Sponsors; Xebia as Lunch Sponsor; Greenstone Equity Partners as Badge Sponsor; DDCAP Group, Fintech Galaxy, and Fintech Surge as Event Supporters.

Below are links for the events photos which can be downloaded.

NETWORKING PHOTOS – https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1QKslREt3KzMyx2Zo5-kbkccY-2c3yAH9?usp=sharing

PANEL DISCUSSION PHOTOS – https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1MB2xfilUwdVT2LDCMl-kZnaNM4w5XAFa?usp=sharing