The global financial landscape is in the midst of an unprecedented shift. Financial technology, or FinTech, is the driving force behind it and it is transforming our relationship with money.
FinTech challenges traditional methods through innovation and so far has turned the financial services industry on its head.
Everyday more people are using it and it is getting harder to avoid. From crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter to cryptocurrency exchanges like Coinbase, there is no escaping FinTech. Even using online banking on your smartphone is part of the so-called revolution.
One place that is capitalising on this transformation is Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
As of 2018, the UAE has been home to almost half the FinTech start-ups in the Middle East & North Africa and has accounted for 47% of FinTech investment in the region since 2019. The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) has even launched a €90m fund dedicated to investment in FinTech.
The city also plays hosts to some of techs major annual events, one of which - called STEP Conference - has fledgling FinTechs flocking to it and is described as the “leading tech festival for emerging markets”.
One start-up to leave its mark on this year’s conference, which coincidentally was born out of the DIFC fund, is a great example of how FinTech is challenging the traditional brick-and-mortar banks and financial institutions.
Its name is Sarwa. It is a robo advisor that provides algorithm-driven financial planning services, which means that minimal human supervision is actually required. People no longer have to go to banks to access their money or move it around and this is worrying for the older, more established bodies.
Many of them are struggling to keep up with the pace of innovation in the sector because, for example, people and businesses can now access loans or capital so easily.
Mirna Sleiman, the Founder and CEO of digital crowdsourcing platform, Fintech Galaxy, says that consumers no longer like traditional ways of banking anymore and who can blame them.
After years of trust gradually eroding away in our financial institutions, FinTech has come along at just the right time. People can borrow their money from somewhere that is more responsible and isn’t just looking to make a quick buck from them, but instead trying to make lives easier by facilitating these financial processes.
And cities like Dubai are leading the digital charge, championing itself as a FinTech hub and as a result, transforming our relationship with money.