FinovateMiddleEast Best of Show Winners Announced!


The votes have been counted and the winners of the first FinovateMiddleEast Best of Show competition have been selected.

Congratulations are due to all of the companies that presented their latest fintech innovations live on stage this week. From wealth management and lending to innovative approaches to making payments faster, more efficient, and more secure, what makes Finovate such a great opportunity for fintech professionals is the breadth and variety of technologies on display. And while we love seeing which companies – new or old, local or global – are the ones that have developed solutions that capture the imagination of our knowledgeable fintech audience, we always maintain that the value of our Finovate demos lies in the diversity of approaches taken by different creative, insightful entrepreneurs and engineers solving real world problems for individuals, consumers, SMEs, corporations, and even governments all over the globe.

That said, there are always a handful of demos that stand out to our attendees – and these are the innovations we highlight with our Best of Show awards. So with no further ado, let’s take a look at the companies taking home Best of Show trophies for their demos this week at FinovateMiddleEast 2018 (in alphabetic order):

APPICS for its next-generation, rewards-based, social media app that enables people to connect with one another around the globe and leverages blockchain technology to turn social media “likes” into currency.



Electronic IDentification for its VideoID solution which combines video streaming, advanced machine learning, and AI to remotely identify customers in seconds from any device and over any channel.




Ondot Systems for its card control technology that empowers card holders to “remote control” their credit and debit cards from a smartphone app.


Our first foray to the Middle East has been a huge success for us. We’ve both seen and learned a great deal about the kind of fintech innovations that are making it easier for those living in the MENA region to have safer, more transparent, and – hopefully – more prosperous financial lives.

We want to thank our sponsors and partners – especially the UAE Ministry of Finance, which was indispensable in helping make FinovateMiddleEast happen. We had a wonderful time bringing our fintech conference to Dubai for the first time and are looking forward to coming back soon. Remember to follow us on Twitter @Finovate, as well as here on the Finovate blog to keep up with the latest in fintech news from the Middle East and elsewhere around the world.

Notes on methodology:
1. Only audience members NOT associated with demoing companies were eligible to vote. Finovate employees did not vote.
2. Attendees were encouraged to note their favorites during each day. At the end of the last demo, they chose their three favorites.
3. The exact written instructions given to attendees: “Please rate (the companies) on the basis of demo quality and potential impact of the innovation demoed.”
4. The three companies appearing on the highest percentage of submitted ballots were named “Best of Show.”
5. Go here for a list of previous Best of Show winners through 2014. Best of Show winners from our 2015 through 2017 conferences are below:
FinovateEurope 2015
FinovateSpring 2015
FinovateFall 2015
FinovateEurope 2016
FinovateSpring 2016
FinovateFall 2016
FinovateAsia 2016
FinovateEurope 2017
FinovateSpring 2017
FinovateFall 2017
FinovateAsia 2017

Welcome to Day Two of FinovateMiddleEast 2018

Pictured: Raja Al Mazrouei, Executive Vice President, Fintech Hive, Dubai International Financial Centre

Day One of FinovateMiddleEast is in the books – which means there is one more day of our fintech conference left to go. And while Day Two will also feature fintech insiders and thought leaders discussing issues like financial inclusion, artificial intelligence, the blockchain, and fintech regulation, the second day of FinovateMiddleEast will swap live demos with emerging and incumbent fintech players for an Accelerator Showcase.

Our special spotlight on regional accelerators and incubators will feature short, 3-minute pitches from some of MENA’s youngest and most ambitious fintech startups, and will reveal the important role incubators and accelerators play in encouraging and supporting fintech innovation. If you are interested in what the future of fintech in the Middle East and North Africa looks like, our accelerator showcase is virtually a front row seat.

Here’s a look at today’s agenda. For more details, visit our FinovateMiddleEast Day Two agenda page. And remember the Best of Show awards presentation will be held this afternoon.

8:00 – 9:00: Registration, Breakfast and Networking

9:00 – 9:05: Chairperson’s Opening Remarks

9:05 – 9:45: The Future of Financial Services – AI and the Use of Blockchain Globally

9:45 – 10:05: Update on Fintech Regulation

10:05 – 10:25: Fintech Unicorn Interview

10:25 – 11:20: Myth Versus Reality: Banks’ Perspectives

11:20 – 11:50: Morning Coffee and Networking

11:50 – 12:40: Panel Discussion: Financial Inclusion in the Middle East

12:40 – 13:00: Unicorn Interview

13:00 – 14:00: Lunch and Networking

14:00 – 14:20: Fintech Interview

14:20 – 15:10: Accelerator Showcase

15:10 – 15:20: Day One Revisit – What did the banks gain? What did the fintech gain? What do investors think?

15:20 – 15:30: Chairperson’s Closing Remarks and Summary

Welcome to Day One of FinovateMiddleEast 2018

FinovateMiddleEast has arrived in Dubai. Day One of our two-day fintech conference begins today, Monday, February 26. And after an afternoon and evening of practice runs and sound checks, our demoing companies are ready to introduce their latest fintech innovations to the world.

In addition to a slate of 14 fintech demos, Day One will also feature an interesting variety of keynote addresses and panel discussions from some of the region’s most engaged and knowledgable fintech business people, thought leaders, and investors. We’ve published an outline of today’s schedule below – including our dual track afternoon sessions on banking and payments on one side, and blockchain, cryptocurrencies, and AI on the other. So whether you like your fintech old school or new school, FinovateMiddleEast’s Afternoon Streams on Day One have you covered!

Tickets are still available. So if you’re in Dubai and interested in meeting some of the people who are helping build the future of fintech in MENA, FinovateMiddleEast on Monday and Tuesday is the place to be.

Here’s the schedule of events for today.

8:00  – 8:30: Registration, Breakfast and Networking

8:30 – 8:35: Chairperson’s Remarks

8:35  – 9:35: Demo Session 1 featuring

9:35 – 9:40: Panel discussion: Starter for one minute – What does a fintech want? What does a bank want? What does the investor think?

9:40 – 10:20: Keynote: What can digital bankers learn from the top innovators?

10:20 – 10:30: United Arab Emirates’ Ministry of Finance address and presentation on the fintech vision.

10:30 – 10:50: Embracing fintech innovation – past, present, and future

10:50 – 11:10: Bank CEO Panel: Driving innovation forward and the fintech global vision

11:10 – 11:40:  Morning Coffee Break and Networking

11:40 – 11:55: Introduction from the FinTech Hive at DIFC

11:55 -12:25:   Chatham House Rule Panel Discussion on Fintech regulation

12:25 – 13:15: Demo Session 2 featuring:

13:15 – 14:15: Lunch and Networking Speaker-hosted topic roundtables

Afternoon Streams: Banking and Payments / Blockchain, Cryptocurrencies, and AI

14:15 – 15:00: Panel Discussions: How far can we go with big wallets? / Results of an Interbank Blockchain Pilot

15:00 – 15:20: Panel Discussions: What do we mean by innovation? / Blockchain Approaches – Beyond UAE

15:20 – 15:40: Address: Discussing the fintech strategies of Indian banks / What’s Happening Now and What’s Next for AI?

15:40 – 16:10: Afternoon Coffee Break and Networking

16:10 – 16:40: Big bank fireside chat

16:40 – 17:10: Demo Session 3 featuring

17:10 – 18:10: Networking Reception, Topic Led Roundtables, Best of Show Awards Ceremony

All demo videos will be available for free in a few weeks in our video archives.

See Tomorrow’s Fintech Today at FinovateMiddleEast 2018

FinovateMiddleEast is just one day away. For the first time, Finovate is bringing its fintech conference of live demos and insightful keynotes and panel discussions to Dubai, the largest city in the UAE., to explore and learn about some of the exciting developments in fintech that are taking place in the Middle East and North Africa.

The presenters on stage are only part of what makes Finovate events special. Our conference attendees – hailing from all over the world – are a diverse collection of professionals from finance, technology, the investment world, and the fintech media. And it is often the case that the introductions made and business cards exchanged between attendees during our networking opportunities prove to be as valuable as the fintech demos and keynote addresses on stage. Take a look, for example, at the titles of our attendees for FinovateMiddleEast that we’ve aggregated into a word cloud below:

From C-level executives like CEOs, CTOs, and CIOs to heads of digital banking, cloud platforms, software development and more, Finovate audiences are a great source of fintech experience and insight in and of themselves. This is one of the reasons why we ensure that our attendees have ample opportunity to mix, mingle, and network both at the beginning and end of each conference day.

So with FinovateMiddleEast kicking off tomorrow, here are a few last minute, need-to-knows to help you make the most of your Finovate experience.

The What

FinovateMiddleEast is a two-day conference of live fintech demonstrations, keynote addresses, panel discussions, and peer networking opportunities. The event is Finovate’s first in the Middle East, and is being produced with the exclusive strategic partnership of the UAE Ministry of Finance.

The When

FinovateMiddleEast takes place on Monday, the 26th of February, and Tuesday, the 27th. Registration begins at 8am on both days. The program on Monday morning will start at 8:30 am. On Tuesday, the program will begin at 9am.

The Where

FinovateMiddleEast will be held at the Madinat Jumeirah Conference and Events Centre in Dubai, UAE. The conference and events centre is part of the Madinat Jumeirah Resort which consists of a trio of grand hotels: Jumeirah Al Qasr, Jumeirah Mina A’Salam, and Jumeirah Al Naseem.

The How

Join us in Dubai for FinovateMiddleEast by visiting our registration page and picking up your ticket. There are group discounts available, as well as discounts for members of government and regulatory entities. Check out our registration page for more information.

Also be sure to download the Finovate app – available at both the Apple Store and at Google Play. Search for “Finovate” and use the same email you used to register for FinovateMiddleEast as your login. If you are a first-time user of our app, the password is “finovate”. In the app you will find more information about our presenters, partners, and sponsors; network with your fellow FinovateMiddleEast attendees, and – importantly – vote for your favorite fintech demos in our Best of Show competition.

There is also a desktop version of the event app available at

The Why

FinovateMiddleEast is a great way to learn about the growing fintech scene in the Middle East and North Africa. Our live fintech demos provide an insight into the kind of challenges fintech companies operating in MENA are solving every day. Our keynote speakers and panel discussions provide the context to understand how these solutions are improving the financial lives of the more than 380 million people living in the region. For more background on fintech in MENA, a few of our thought pieces are listed below:

We are very excited to bring our fintech conference to the UAE and hope you will join us – either live here in Dubai or by following along online via our coverage on Twitter @Finovate.

The United Arab Emirates Ministry of Finance is the Exclusive Strategic Partner of FinovateMiddleEast

FinovateMiddleEast sponsors also include UAE ExchangeProfile SoftwaresimilityTemenosBlock GeminiLoxon SolutionsOrtec FinancePlug and Play Abu Dhabi Global Market

Dubai International Financial Centre is a supporting partner of FinovateMiddleEast

FinovateMiddleEast partners also include AstroLabsByte AcademyEuropean Fintech AllianceFemtech LeadersFINOLABFintech ConnectorFintech GalaxyFintech Professionals AssociationHolland FintechPlug and Play Abu Dhabi Global MarketSME Finance ForumStartupbootcampStartupbootcamp FintechSwiss Finance + Technology AssociationWomen Who Code

FinovateMiddleEast media partners include Aite GroupArabnetBankersHubBanking TechnologyBeFast.TVBig Data Made SimpleBlockchain in EuropeBlockExplorerBreaking BanksMiddle East Business ReviewCrowdfund InsiderFinancial ITFintech FinanceFintechtimeForresterGigabitHeadcountIBS IntelligenceInnovate FinanceIslamic Finance NewsMercator Advisory GroupOvumOxford Business GroupPlus JournalRainmaking ColabRFI GroupThe Fintech TimesThe Nilson ReportThe PaypersUnlock Blockchain


From AI to Wealth Management: FinovateMiddleEast Arrives in Dubai

Image designed by Freepik

In just two days, Finovate will make its Middle East debut. The conference begins on Monday, 26 February and continues through Tuesday, 27 February, and will feature both our signature 7-minute, live demo format as well as an exciting array of fintech visionaries and thought leaders to provide insight and context into the technological innovations we’ll see over the two days of FinovateMiddleEast.

So what are we talking about when we talk about fintech in MENA? Our FinovateMiddleEast Themes Word Cloud below offers more than a few helpful hints.

Let’s take a closer look at the top three …

AI – Leveraging artificial intelligence to solve technical challenges in finance is as important for fintechs in MENA as it is all over the world. Often combined with machine learning and data analytics, AI is enabling businesses to better understand their customers, make many operational procedures faster and less error prone, and even pave the way for a world of connected devices courtesy of the Internet of Things.

Mobile Wallets – While mobile wallet adoption has been mixed in many places, in MENA mobile wallets continue to play a major role in driving mobile payments and providing opportunities for consumers – especially the un- and underbanked – to participate more easily in e-commerce as well as giving businesses such as grocery stores, gas stations, and public transit a path toward faster payment processing and a better experience for consumers.

Wealth Management – The growing population of high net worth and ultra high net worth individuals in MENA is helping generate interest in wealth management solutions. These options range from 100% robo advisory services to wealth management firms that blend technology with human experts to provide a holistic financial advisory service.

Get to know the companies whose technologies reflect these and many more innovative trends in fintech via our FinovateMiddleEast Sneak Peek series. And for more information on our keynotes speeches and panel discussions, be sure to check out our Day One and Day Two agendas.

We are excited about Finovate’s debut in Dubai and hope you will join us in person at the Madinat Jumeirah Conference and Events Centre here in Dubai, UAE, or follow us online through our Live Twitter feed @Finovate.  Registration on both Monday and Tuesday will begin at 8am with refreshments and a continental breakfast available to attendees. Opening remarks on Monday will begin at 8:30; on Tuesday the first presentation begins at 9am.

The United Arab Emirates Ministry of Finance is the Exclusive Strategic Partner of FinovateMiddleEast

FinovateMiddleEast sponsors also include UAE Exchange, Profile Software, simility, Temenos, Block Gemini, Loxon Solutions, Ortec Finance, Plug and Play Abu Dhabi Global Market

Dubai International Financial Centre is a supporting partner of FinovateMiddleEast

FinovateMiddleEast partners also include AstroLabs, Byte Academy, European Fintech Alliance, Femtech Leaders, FINOLAB, Fintech Connector, Fintech Galaxy, Fintech Professionals Association, Holland Fintech, Plug and Play Abu Dhabi Global Market, SME Finance Forum, Startupbootcamp, Startupbootcamp Fintech, Swiss Finance + Technology Association, Women Who Code

FinovateMiddleEast media partners include Aite Group, Arabnet, BankersHub, Banking Technology, BeFast.TV, Big Data Made Simple, Blockchain in Europe, BlockExplorer, Breaking Banks, Middle East Business Review, Crowdfund Insider, Financial IT, Fintech Finance, Fintechtime, Forrester, Gigabit, Headcount, IBS Intelligence, Innovate Finance, Islamic Finance News, Mercator Advisory Group, Ovum, Oxford Business Group, Plus Journal, Rainmaking Colab, RFI Group, The Fintech Times, The Nilson Report, The Paypers, Unlock Blockchain

FinovateMiddleEast Day One: Voices from MENA

FinovateMiddle East is right around the corner. And in addition to our signature, 7-minute live demonstrations of the latest in fintech innovation, we will be hosting a wide variety of keynotes, addresses, panel discussions, and fireside chats, as well. Finovate now gives attendees more context and insight into the relationship between financial institutions, entrepreneurs, and investors that makes fintech innovation possible.

Here’s a quick introduction to the women and men who will be speaking on Day One of FinovateMiddle East. We’ll share our lineup of Day Two speakers in separate post. For more information about what’s happening on the first day of our conference, including our demos for the day, accelerator showcase, and lunchtime roundtables, check out our Day One agenda.

Keynotes & Addresses

Mirna Sleiman, Co-founder, Fintech Galaxy

Sleiman is a senior executive with 15+ years of experience in government relations, business strategy, digital communications and journalism, mostly within the MENA region.  Sleiman will provide Chairperson’s remarks.

Jim Marous, Author and Publisher, The Financial Brand and the Digital Banking Report

Named as one of the most influential people in banking and a top 5 fintech influencer to follow, Marous is an internationally recognized financial industry strategist. Marous will speak on the topic “What can digital bankers learn from top innovators?”

Promoth Manghat, CEO, UAE Exchange

As CEO of UAE Exchange Group – a leading global provider of diversified financial services spanning money transfer, foreign exchange, and payment solutions – Manghat is responsible for strategy execution and management of operations across group entities. Manghat will discuss “Embracing fintech innovation – past, present, and future.”

Omeed Mehrinfar, Regional Director, EMEA Plug and Play

Head of Plug and Play’s fintech activities in Europe and general operations in the Middle East, Mehrinfar started his career being a founding member of one of Plug and Play’s largest divisions (fintech) in California. Mehrinfar’s address is titled “What do we mean by innovation?”

Sameer Singh Jaini, Fintech Asia top 100 influencer, CEO, Digital Fifth

Recognized as Fintech Asia Top 100, Jaini is a digital enthusiast with two decades of rich digital experience across Asia, Europe, and Americas. He has been part of core teams responsible for setting Kotak Mahindra Bank and Bharatiya Mahila Bank. His presentation will discuss the fintech strategies of Indian banks.

Raja Al Mazrouei, Executive Vice President, Fintech Hive, Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) 

As Executive Vice President of Fintech Hive at DIFC, Ms. Al Mazrouei oversees the region’s first fintech accelerator, which brings together financial institutions, government entities, technology partners and entrepreneurs to develop technologies that benefit the financial industry. She will provide an introduction from the Fintech Hive at DIFC.

Discussions, Panels, and Roundtables

Ruth Wandhofer, Regulatory and Fintech expert, Citi

Wandhofer is one of the foremost authorities on banking regulatory matters. Her key responsibilities include driving regulatory and industry dialogue and developing product and market strategy in line with the evolving regulatory and innovation landscape.

Wandhofer will participate in Panel Discussion: Starter for one minute – What does a fintech want? What does a bank want? What does the investor think? and Chatham House Rule Panel Discussion on fintech regulation: What is happening? What needs to happen? Can we create best practices together?

Hans Christensen, Director, Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority

Christensen serves as the Director of DTEC which he was instrumental in building up from scratch to be the largest and most profitable tech co-working centre in MENA hosting 800+ start-ups from 70 nationalities and known for hosting Intelak (Emirates Airlines incubator), the Intel ignition lab and the Dubai Smart City Accelerator powered by Startupbootcamp.

Christensen will participate in Panel Discussion: Starter for one minute – What does a fintech want? What does a bank want? What does the investor think? and Panel Discussion: What’s happening now and what’s next for AI?

Mike Cunningham, CEO, Clearly

Cunningham is a thought leader and digital practitioner of innovation within financial services with an unmatched global network with the world’s leading fintechs, accelerators and the established corporates. Before joining CLEARLY, he was Executive Vice President at Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank where he led Group Strategy and Innovation.

Cunningham will participate in the Bank CEO Panel Discussion: Driving innovation forward and the fintech global vision.

Chris Taylor, CEO, Abu Dhabi Finance

Joining Abu Dhabi Finance in 2009 and responsible for overall strategy execution, leadership and management, Taylor Chris is an experienced Chartered Accountant with over two decades of local and international financial services experience. Chris was recognized as the ICAEW Middle East Chartered Accountant of the year in 2012 and under his leadership Abu Dhabi Finance has received multiple mortgages and finance company awards.

Taylor will participate in the Bank CEO Panel Discussion: Driving innovation forward and the fintech global vision.

Serdar Guner, Director, Supervision, DFSA

Guner joined the DFSA as senior manager in the supervision division in September 2010. He became a director in 2013 after serving as an associate director in 2012. Following responsibilities and directorship roles spanning prudential risk, market conduct and pooled supervision, he now leads a team responsible for the supervision of financial technology firms and cyber risk, with the overarching responsibility of governance and operational risk in the centre.

Guner will participate in the Chatham House rule panel discussion on fintech regulation: What is happening? What needs to happen? Can we create best practice together?

Wai-Lum Kwok, Executive Director, Capital Markets Financial Services Regulatory Authority, ADGM

Kwok joined the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) of Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) in June 2015. He heads up the Capital Markets division responsible for admission and supervision of financial market infrastructures and capital market intermediaries. The division also regulates the offering of securities, collective investments schemes. 

Kwok will participate in the Chatham House rule panel discussion on fintech regulation: What is happening? What needs to happen? Can we create best practice together?

Pooja Singh, International Relations Specialist, Securities and Commodities Authority, UAE

Singh is a financial analysis and regulatory compliance professional with over 10 years of progressive experience. She currently works with Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA), UAE and is a member of their fintech team. She is working on various projects to implement international best practices in the UAE capital market and help shape SCA’s views on fintech.

Singh will participate in the Chatham House rule panel discussion on fintech regulation: What is happening? What needs to happen? Can we create best practice together?

Moussa Beidas, CEO & Co-founder, Bridg Payment Solutions

Beidas is a digital user experience designer and creative strategist who has built customer experiences for DeNA (Tokyo), Tata DOCOMO (India), Skype, Mathaf Museum of Modern Art (Qatar), Microsoft (USA), Hero MotoCorp, i2, ALDAR (UAE). He has designed customer experiences spanning the world’s largest markets including India and the Middle East impacting over 600 million end users.

Beidas will participate in Panel Discussion – How far can we go with big wallets? and the Day One Revisit: What did the bank gain? What did the fintech gain? What do investors think?

Narayanan Ganapathy, CEO, Angivest Ventures

CEO of an early stage investment firm based in Bahrain providing pre-seed and seed stage capital to technology startups globally, Ganapathy brings in a wealth of investment management experience, having worked both regionally and internationally in senior management positions with prominent institutions such as Deutsche Bank and GFH Financial Group.

Ganapathy will participate in Panel Discussion – How far can we go with big wallets?

Danny Abla, Director, Fintech, Arab Financial Services

A serial entrepreneur with 15 years in tech and 2 start-ups under his his belt, Abla founded PinPay in 2008 back when mobile payments was still in its infancy and sold it to a leading bank in 2013. He went on to found another start-up in New York, Shoop, which he sold in 2015. Since then, he got very involved in the MENA start-up ecosystem and has been helping start-ups design their products and grow their customer base.

Abla will participate in Panel Discussion – How far can we go with big wallets?

Vikas Bansal, Community Partner, FinTech Connector

Bansal has successfully managed multiple consulting/outsourcing relationships as a client partner for various banks and financial services institutions to deliver transformation projects and achieve key business objectives. As a strategic adviser to clients, he has been a keen observer and researcher of trends and opportunities that contextualize fintech and the various thematic areas of fintech innovation and disruptive technologies. 

Bansal will participate in Panel Discussion – How far can we go with big wallets?

Gaurav Dhar, Second Generation Fintech Entrepreneur, Tech Investor, Advisor, Mentor

Dhar is the Manager at Payments Solution Provider Marshal Equipment. He has been working at Marshal for over 13 years now, handling the day-to-day business, delivering solutions, and building long-term partnerships and payment ecosystems.

Dhar will participate in our Panel Discussion – How far can we go with big wallets?

Suvo Sarkar, Sr. EVP & Group Head, Retail Banking and Wealth Management, Emirates NBD

General Manager for Retail Banking at Emirates NBD since June 2012, Sarkar has the mandate to oversee all aspects of Emirates NBD’s Retail Banking and Consumer Finance businesses, including branches, retail loans, mortgages, credit cards, wealth management, direct banking, SME, sales and marketing, as well as setting new standards in product innovation.

Sarkar will participate in the Big Bank fireside chat.

Zhi Ying Ng, Senior Analyst Forrester

Zhi Ying serves eBusiness and Channel Strategy Professionals within the Asia Pacific financial services and retail sectors. Her research focuses on how digital technologies are transforming the way financial institutions and retail enterprises interact and engage with empowered customers.

Zhi Ying will participate in the Big Bank fireside chat.

Rami El-Dokany, Founder, Inclusion

E-Dokany will participate in Panel Discussion: Starter for one minute – What does a fintech want? What does a bank want? What does the investor think?

FinovateMiddleEast Day Two: Voices from MENA

By adding keynote addresses and panel discussions to the signature, 7-minute Finovate demo format, attendees to our conferences benefit not only from seeing live technology demonstrations firsthand. They also get exposure to some of fintech’s most insightful thought leaders, including CEOs, serial entrepreneurs, bankers, and investors. Here, we’re giving you a look at some of the women and men who will be speaking on Day Two of FinovateMiddle East.

Note that some of our speakers on Day Two are also speaking on Day One and have been introduced as part of our Day One feature. These include Ruth Wandhofer and Moussa Beidas who will close Day Two with a revisit of our Day One Theme: What did the bank gain? What did the fintech gain? What do investors think?

For more information about what’s happening on the second day of our conference, including our demos for the day, accelerator showcase, and lunchtime roundtables, check out our Day Two agenda.

Keynotes & Addresses

Paul Schulte, Founder and Editor and International Fintech Guru, Schulte Research

Schulte is founder and editor of Schulte Research, established in 2011 for researching financial institutions and related technology. He has had a career in equity research which spans 27 years as a chief strategist for major institutions including Lehman, Barclays and Nomura. Schulte will speak on “The future of financial services: AI and the use of blockchain globally.”

Bryan Stirewait, Managing Director, Supervision, DFSA

Stirewalt joined the DFSA in 2008 and has served as a Managing Director since 2010. His responsibilities include prudential and conduct-oriented oversight of financial service providers and overseeing the DFSA’s role with Registered Auditors and CRAs. Stirewalt also directs the DFSA’s efforts to fight methods of illicit finance within his primary areas of responsibilities, as well as with DNFBPs. At FinovateMiddleEast, he will provide an update on fintech regulation.

Bernard Matthewman, Regional Director, MEA, Motive Labs

A highly experienced CEO in Africa, Matthewman has built and sold significant fintech businesses over the past 20 years, including the well-known Paynet Group. PesaPoint formed part of Paynet in East Africa, which recently won the Gold Award for innovation at the ATMIA 50 year celebrations for the global first of performing cardless mobile transactions on ATMs. Matthewman will provide a keynote, as well as participate in our fintech unicorn interview.

Ambareen Musa, CEO, Souqalmal

Musa will participate in a fintech interview.

Discussions, Panels, and Roundtables

Emre Karter, Managing Director, Head of Treasury & Trade Solutions, MENAPT, Citi

Karter is responsible for Citi’s Treasury and Trade Solution businesses in the Middle East, North Africa, Pakistan and Turkey, and is based out of Dubai, United Arab Emirates. In this role, Emre is responsible for driving Citi’s market-leading TTS business.

Karter will participate in the panel discussion: Myth versus reality – banks’ perspectives

Aleski Grym, Head Digitalisation, Bank of Finland

Grym is Head of Digitalisation at the Bank of Finland. He manages the digital programme of the bank as well as various projects related to the digital transformation of the financial industry, covering topics such as fintech, distributed ledger technologies, digital currencies, payment technologies, cyber security, and data analytics.

Grym will participate in the panel discussion: Myth versus reality – banks’ perspectives

Andrew Reid, Head of Digital Market Management and Governance, Deutsche Bank

Reid is Head of Digital Market Management and Governance for the Global Transaction Banking Division (GTB) of Deutsche Bank, based in London. He was appointed to this role in June 2017. Prior to this, he was responsible for the European Corporate Cash Management division of Deutsche Bank’s Global Transaction Bank.

Reid will participate in the panel discussion: Myth versus reality – banks’ perspectives

Lex Sokolin, Global Director, Fintech Strategy, Autonomous Research

Sokolin is a futurist and entrepreneur focused on the next generation of financial services. He directs Fintech Strategy at Autonomous Research, a global research firm for the financial sector, helping clients understand and leverage innovation. Covered themes include roboadvice, neobanks and banks-as-a-platform, blockchain and the cryptoeconomy, artificial intelligence, chatbots, insurtech and regtech.

Sokolin will participate in the panel discussion: Myth versus reality – banks’ perspectives

Ossama Hassanein, CEO, Rising Tide

Hassanein will participate in the panel discussion: Myth versus reality – banks’ perspectives

Sara Grinstead, Chief Innovation Officer, RAKBank

Grinstead leads the Bank’s approach to product and service design, ensuring that solutions are customer-centric and leveraging new business models and technologies. This includes developing new capabilities within RAKBANK, establishing partnerships with fintechs, and working with the broader UAE eco-system to support the fintech agenda in the region.

Grinstead will participate in the panel discussion on financial inclusion in MENA.

Steve Naude, Head, Middle East & Africa, TransferWise

Naude heads the Banking team for the Middle East and Africa at TransferWise, the international money transfer platform. Here he works with banks, partners and regulators to build partnerships and expand the TransferWise experience into the region.

Naude will participate in the panel discussion on financial inclusion in MENA

Mohamed El Sabban, Digital Innovation Head, Digital Banking & GTS, Commercial International Bank, Egypt

El Sabban has 23 years of wide intensive cross-functional experience in managing, developing and implementing large-scale strategic business transformation programs in the region. He is also passionate about blending business strategies, human-centric design, disruptive technologies, and business models to develop digital solutions and drive a culture of continuous innovation.

El Sabban will participate in the panel discussion on financial inclusion in MENA.

Craig Moore, CEO, Beehive

As founder and CEO, Moore is responsible for overseeing the overall strategic direction and managing the day-to-day operations of Beehive. Before founding Beehive, he was a founder and COO of Butterfly Software, a data analytics and migration software company acquired by IBM in September 2012.

Moore will participate in the panel discussion on financial inclusion in MENA.

Devie Mohan, CEO, Burnmark

Mohan is a fintech industry advisor and analyst based in London. She is the co-founder and CEO of Burnmark, a fintech research company. She is a panel member on the ING group Think Forward initiative on better financial decision making. She writes extensively on innovation, disruption and digitalisation and is a columnist with several publications.

Mohan will participate in the panel discussion on financial inclusion in MENA.

Yvonne Gale, CEO, NEL Fund Managers

CEO of NEL Fund Managers, a specialist impact investment firm providing tailored funding to small and medium-sized businesses in the North East of England, Gale is also a director of NI Growth Loan Fund General Partner, overseeing the operation of similar funds in Northern Ireland by Whiterock Capital Partners LLP.

Gale will participate in the panel discussion on financial inclusion in MENA.

Tariq Sanad, CFO, Fetchr

Sanad will participate in our unicorn interview.

FinovateMiddleEast Sneak Peek: 0smosis

A look at the companies demoing live at FinovateMiddleEast on 26 and 27 of February in Dubai, U.A.E. Pick up your tickets today and save your spot.

0smosis is a Belgian-based company that builds, validates and launches fintech startups. At FinovateMiddleEast, the company will present a new augmented way of interacting with your clients.


  • Available 24/7 to your clients when they want it, where they want it
  • Creates an augmented customer experience compared to today
  • Automated so it revises your back office processes

Why it’s great
0smosis will present the default expectation of your clients in 2025. Be ready to engage.


Geert Van Kerckhoven, Founder and Product Manager for Helder
Van Kerckhoven co-founded 0smosis in 2017 as the next-gen financial services catalyst. Today, he handles the global strategy of the company as well as the development of the different ventures.


Len Adriaenssens, Founder and Venture Partner
Adriaenssens co-founded 0smosis in 2017 as the next-gen financial services catalyst. Today, he handles customer strategy, branding, and market development. Moreoever, he’s the product owner of “Helder.”



Fintech News from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA)

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As Finovate prepares for its first conference in the Middle East, here’s a round up of recent fintech news and need-to-knows from the MENA region. Learn more about how to join us in Dubai in February for FinovateMiddleEast.

  • Saudi Arabia’s central bank inks deal with Ripple to use distributed ledger technology to settle payments.
  • Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) reports that gold trader Regal RA DMCC is the first company in MENA to gain a licence to trade cryptocurrencies.
  • Honeywell launches Middle East industrial cybersecurity center.

MENA Fintech Fact International Data Corporation reports that  MENA spending on blockchain technology will grow to $80 million this year compared to $39 million in 2017. By 2021, regional blockchain spending is expected to reach $307 million.

  • Monami Tech introduces digital payment service, Lendme.
  • Forbes Middle East profiles MadfooatCom founder Nasser Saleh.
  • Monetary Authority of Singapore and Central Bank of Egypt forge fintech partnership.

Thought Leadership – Global Finance Magazine looks back on investment in MENA startups in 2017, including the $37 million raised by fintechs PayTabs, Emirati Souqalmal, and Wahed Invest.

  • ComputerWorld highlights OneGram in a review of government-sponsored blockchain cryptocurrencies.
  • UAE Securities and Commodities Authority partners with PwC to design regulatory framework for UAE capital markets-oriented regtech.
  • Entrepreneur Middle East features Egyptian fintech Moneyfellows.

FinovateMiddleEast Sneak Peek: Efigence

A look at the companies demoing live at FinovateMiddleEast on 26 and 27 of February in Dubai, U.A.E. Pick up your tickets today and save your spot.

Efigence, a company specializing in implementing innovative technologies and designing UX for banks, presents a new features from the EF14 Digital Banking Platform: EF14 Analytics.


  • Real-time analysis both on public and secure sites
  • Conversion of insights into recommendations with sales automation
  • On-premise solution ensures that the bank remains the sole owner of data gathered

Why it’s great
Take control with EF14 Analytics, your one-stop tool to manage all customer data securely and effectively and transform it into real-time recommendations.


Andrzej Szewczyk, Vice President and Managing Director 
Szewczyk combines technology knowledge with experience in business management, creating innovative solutions for banks and other financial market players. He has been in the internet industry since 1999.


Marek Lesiak, President and CTO 
A fintech evangelist specializing in innovative product development, Lesiak has almost 20 years of experience in designing web solutions.