With rising inflation, interest rate hikes and political uncertainties the global economy is weathering a difficult storm, but one sector that has fared better than others is, financial technology or Fintech.
Fintech: A growing sector
FinTech usually refers to software, technology and mobile apps, created to improve, automate and adapt traditional forms of finance for businesses and consumers.
According to research company Statista, digital payments are expected to grow to 7.92 trillion euros by 2024, from 4.22 trillion euros in 2020.
At the Dubai International Financial Centre or (DIFC's) Fintech Week, the thought leadership conference took a deep dive into the latest opportunities, challenges, and technology trends driving the region’s financial services sector.
The inaugural event was bolstered by news that fintech is the fastest growing sector for DIFC, contributing more than 35% to the total number of companies that have been established over the last 12 months.
The Governor of Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Essa Kazim said part of that success was down to the establishment of a hub that supports fintech companies from incubator to accelerator and investment stage.
“We do have this integrated ecosystem which has created a very conducive environment for them to grow and flourish. In parallel, we've been working to really create a regulatory environment with the best practices and international standards.”
Dubai at the forefront of Fintech development
From tech talks to showcases and panel discussions the brought together investors and companies seeking solutions for the blockchain and fintech sector.
Experts at the fintech week said that Dubai will become a launchpad for global entrepreneurs to build and scale across the Middle East and Africa region thanks to expertise and funding.
The sector in Dubai is similar to the global picture and is undergoing rapid expansion. The Chairman of the MENA Fintech Association said our day-to-day lives are surrounded by innovations that came out of the fintech industry.
Amazon provided a further boost to the industry in the region in June with the launch of their Fintech Lab, a hub for digital innovation and creativity based in Dubai’s financial and fintech centre.
Working with start-ups, SMEs and partners, the aim is to support new programs and ideas and advance knowledge on the digital payments and fintech sectors worldwide.
Financing the future
However, in these more challenging financial times, investors are more cautious and access to funding remains the highest priority for start-ups.
Sharif El-Badawi, CEO of the Dubai Future District Fund said his company has an asset. They have a pillar in the fund that they invest through called the future of finance.
“To me, it's about the trajectory of where these technologies are leading to, especially as we move into the next 24 months,” he told Euronews.
“I think it's going to be critical here in the region and worldwide how we look at the underlying value propositions of fintech companies, the intersection between them and the banks and the financial institutions and regulators that they have to play along with," he added.
Dubai-based FinTech company Qashio has successfully raised 2.4m euros in their latest round to launch in the MENA market.
They have created the UAE’s first corporate card and expense management platform. With Qashio, company finance and HR teams can set and amend spending limits on virtual & physical cards. This eliminates the use of cash, avoids costly late expense claims, and reduces the amount of work put into reimbursements.
The CEO and co-founder Armin Moradi says it has been a product that companies, governments and banks are all keen to enable as it reduces the amount of cash in circulation. It reduces fraud and can be used to monitor company expenses in real-time.
“You don't need to wait for your money when you do an expense. It's already available on the app for you. It also gives clarity on how you can spend money so that you work within the policies the company has set up, and that by default reduces internal conflicts," he said.