Once again, the MEA Finance Banking Technology Summit and Awards, held on the 9th of May 2024 at the Ritz Carlton DIFC Hotel amassed the regions key regional bankers and financial technology market leaders, innovators and thinkers for this highly impactful, industry shaping annual event.

The  theme for the 2024 event was Keeping Pace with Innovation in Banking and Finance and in a reflection of the fast growing and robust financial technology sector, attracted more than 800 delegates and stakeholders from across the region, from the start of the event to the conclusion in the later afternoon.

Highlighting the accelerating pace of technological development across the banking sectors, speakers in the seven panel discussions debated the effects of unavoidable changes to the industry and wider society before an audience hungry for insights into the shape of the coming financial world.

Proceedings were started with an opening keynote address by Mr. Jamal Saleh, Director General, UAE Banks Federation delivered the keynote address.

The summit then proceeded  the first panel discussion – Open Banking, Super Apps, Hyper-personalisation: Is technology making customers more demanding? With Rajesh Nagpal, Director Sales – Cross Sector, GBM (Moderator);  Srinivasan Sampath, Group Chief Information Officer, First Abu Dhabi Bank; Mamoun Al Homssey, Chief Technology Officer, Ajman Bank; Mohammed Wassim Khayata, Chief Executive Officer, Al Maryah Community Bank; Gyan Srivastava, Group Head Data Analytics & AI, Mashreq; Sara Hoteit, Regional Sales Manager, Backbase and Bindesh Pandey, Vice President – Digital Financial Solutions, Comviva, all debating how increasingly personalised banking options are forming customers’ expectations.

Following came a presentation made by Sandeep Shrivastava, Technical Sales Leader – IBM Business Unit, GBM Dubai titled AIOPS: The Game Changer for MEA Banks, Overcoming Complexity, Security Threats and Operational Challenges.

The following panel – Artificial Intelligence in Banking: The writing is on the wall – likely put there by Generative AI – included Anna Zeitlin, Partner, Addleshaw Goddard (Moderator);  Ronit Ghose, Head of Future of Finance, Citi; Arun Mehta, Head of Data Analytics & Artificial Intelligence, First Abu Dhabi Bank; Anshu Sharma Raja, Chief Transformation Technology Operations Officer, Standard Chartered Bank; Ankur Saxena, Senior Director of Sales (South Asia, UAE, Oman & CIS), ACI Worldwide; Christoph Koster, Chief Executive Officer, ruya and Mostafa Zaher, Vice President, IBM Data, AI and Automation, IBM, where the discussion focused on how banks, their staff and their customers will change as AI becomes more influential.

Next was the second presentation for the day with by Bilal Baig, Technical Director for Trend Micro with Vision One: Leading the Charge of Financial Cyber Resilience.

Next on the discussion agenda came – Technology and Payments: Meeting the many and growing requirements of the market, with Alaa AlRousan, Senior Account Director, Swift (Moderator); Gautam Dutta, MD & Head – Cash Product Management & Innovation, First Abu Dhabi Bank; Mahmoud AbuEbeid, Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder, GSS Group; Vibhor Mundhada, Chief Executive Officer – Neopay, Mashreq; Andrew McCormack, Chief Operating Officer, Al Etihad Payments; Harry Gill, Chairman, Pay10 and Gurpreet Saluja, Executive Director, Financial Institutions, JP Morgan Payments, discussing the close and essential relationship between technology and payments.

Then came the topic, The Shape of The Cloud in Banking and Finance: Is the sky the limit for the cloud?, including Bryan Stirewalt, Financial Services Regulatory Leader, Ernst & Young (Moderator); Rajsekhar Kar, Head of Solutions Architects, Middle East and Africa, Swift; Krishna Kumar Nair, Chief Operating Officer, Emirates Development Bank; Mahendra Dhillon, Chief Technology Officer, National Bank of Fujairah; Sasi Nair, Head of Technology Delivery, Commercial Bank of Dubai; Dr. Devid Jegerson, Chief Operating Officer, Invest Bank; Adrien Sicoli, Chief Growth Officer, Dixio, in a debate on the adoption of the cloud and how best to work with it.

After lunch, the summit continues with Corporate Banking and Technology, with Martin Blechta, Partner, Boston Consulting Group (Moderator);  Giovanni Everduin, Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer, Commercial Bank International; Irfan Bhatti, Vice President for Enterprise Architecture & Core Banking, Banque Saudi Fransi; Helmi Abdullah, Chief Wholesale Banking Officer, Invest Bank;  Reda Oummouy, Chief Operating Officer, Adria Business & Technology; Zul Javaid, Chief Executive Officer, Haifin; Somu Roy, Managing Director for Outsourced Payment Services, Network International, discussing the coming expansion of financial technology into corporate banking.

The penultimate panel of the summit was Partnerships and progress: How technology is forging new commercial relationships for banks with speakers Tristan Brandt, EVP – Head of Digital Transformation & EPMO, RAKBANK (Moderator); Dr. Tariq Al Hawi, Chief Technology Officer, Al Etihad Payments; Finali Fernando, Managing Director, Regional Head of Products, CCO and Business Management, HSBC; George Hojeige, Chief Executive Officer, Virtugroup; Maria Parpou, EVP, Mastercard Gateway, Mastercard and Ali Nanji, Regional Director, Backbase, and debated how technology is leading to evolving partnership and new forms of financial businesses.

The last discussion of the event was What of the Future – How will the next decade start for those working in the banking sector?, with speakers Pawel Michalski, Partner, BCG (Moderator); Salah Suleiman, Country Manager – UAE, Trend Micro; Saud Al Dhawyani, Chief Platforms Officer, Emirates NBD; Mamoun Alhomssey, Chief Technology Officer, Ajman Bank; Ramkumar Balasubramaniam, Chief Financial Officer, Middle East and Africa, Barclays; Dongjun Choi, Group Chief Consumer Officer, RAKBANK; Mohamed Abdel Razek, Senior Executive Vice President, Group Head of Technology, Transformation & Information, Mashreq, where the debate speculated on the shape of world of banking in the coming years.

MEA Finance Banking Technology Summit 2024 was supported by Et Etihad Payments and UAE Banks Federation as event partners. The event sponsors were ACI Worldwide,  GSS and Swift  as Gold Sponsors, Comviva, DiXiO, haifin, Mastercard Gateway and Pay 10 as Silver Sponsors, GBM as Strategic Technology Partner, Trend Micro as Cybersecurity Partner, BCG as Official Consulting Partner, Loxon as Badge Sponsor, Adria as Lunch Sponsor, Backbase as Reception Sponsor, Fintech Surge as Official Exhibition Partner and the following Supporting Partner Sponsors – DDCAP Ethos, FAB, finshape, finesse, NBF and Virtuzone