- MEFTECH 2017 delivers intensive two-day conference to executive-level delegates in Abu Dhabi
- Gartner reveals startling digital predictions for the future of e-commerce
- Industry thought leader believes GCC countries are well placed to become global financial technology hubs
- Banks urged to appoint younger technology leaders into board-level positions
Abu Dhabi, 16th March 2017: The region’s leading financial technology exhibition, MEFTECH, delivered some thought provoking ideas on how and why the MENA financial sector must adapt to realise the huge global opportunities represented by technology.
Board level executives from all of the leading banks in the UAE were joined by banking delegates from further afield such as Saudi Investment Bank, Alinma bank and Arab African International Bank as well as from other financial institutions including the Arab Monetary Fund, Emirates Investment Authority and the Abu Dhabi Global Market.
The two-day event included 11 keynote presentations, five in-depth case studies and ten roundtable discussions, while dozens of established and fledgling technologies were given the opportunity to give live demonstrations of their solutions.
Global IT research and advisory firm, Gartner, provided some startling global predictions for the future suggesting that by 2020, 100 million people will shop using augmented reality, while 30% of people will browse without a screen.
Arnold Gutmann, senior executive partner for Gartner in the MENA region, went on to say: “By 2021 20% of the total amount spent online will have involved one of the seven digital giants (Alibaba, Google, Amazon, Tencent, Facebook, Baidu or Apple), $1trillion will have been saved by the Internet of Things by 2022 and healthcare costs will have been cut by 40% by 2020.
“We also believe 2 million people will be required by their employer to wear health and fitness tracking devices by 2018 – so get your running shoes on.”
Chris Skinner, a leading global figure in the field of Financial Technology and CEO of TheFinanser.com, was one of the keynote speakers at MEFTECH, he believes the MENA region is perfectly placed to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the digital revolution.
He said: “The Western world is re-booting how it interacts with consumers while the less mature emerging markets in Asia and Africa are booting up for the first time as technology is allowing them to deliver to consumers they have never been able to reach before.
“The UAE, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman are perfectly placed both geographically and in terms of resource to deliver to these markets by becoming financial technology hubs. They need to do all they can to attract the right people, skills, technology and businesses to the region to ensure they can become financial technology hubs. They just need to do it quickly before they miss the opportunity.
“The GCC countries can definitely make this happen though. For example, look what’s been achieved in Dubai, it was recently rated the 18thmost significant financial hub in the world, but that has been achieved in just 12 years. Imagine what it can achieve in the next 12 years.”
Mr Skinner also urged financial institutions not to fall into similar traps of the western banks by employing younger fresher talent who understand technology into board level positions.
He continued: “The board level bankers I meet in London are generally over 50 wearing suits and from a banking background, but when I meet the people leading financial technology businesses they are normally in their early to mid-thirties and wearing jeans.
“Banks aren’t banks anymore, they’re financial technology businesses therefore their boardrooms should be split 50/50 by financial and tech people. Again, banks in the Middle East are well placed to make sure they adopt this kind of thinking.”
Mr Skinner was joined at MEFTECH by a series of leading figures from the financial technology sector who delivered keynote speeches, while global giants IBM, Comarch and Facebook Finance also gave insightful presentations on how they see the industry developing.
Chris Fountain, Managing Director of Turret Media, organisers of the MEFTECH 2017 said: “We were delighted the region’s major banks represented at MEFTECH and I’m sure they got a lot from our extremely packed schedule.
“It’s clear from our various prestigious speakers that there is a very bright future for financial technology across the globe and most definitely in the MENA region.”