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.

  • Panamax Partners, a technology business vertical of Bankai Group, announces partnership with UAE-based fintech, Trriple.
  • Zawya looks at Oman’s leading Islamic bank, Bank Nizwa and its range of sharia-compliant, wholesale banking solutions.
  • Tahawul Tech profiles “The Dubai banking CEO with a PhD in AI,” Dr. Bernd van Linder.

MENA Fintech Fact Analysts expect the number of startups in the MENA region to grow to 250 by 2020, with half offering payment solutions and a third innovating in the money lending and capital raising space, per to Wamda.

  • U.A.E.’s NOW Money offers an explainer: UAE VAT for Fintech companies explained
  • Revenue management and customer experience specialist SunTech teams up with Abu Dhabi’s Al Hilal Bank.
  • BitOasis founder Ola Doudin talks crytocurrency regulation with Zawya.

Thought Leadership Bahrain aims to become gateway to FinTech in the Middle East according to Bahrain Economic Development Board managing director Simon Galpin in FinTech Global.

  • JadoPado and Esanjo founder Omar Kassim previews plans to launch cryptocurrency exchange, BitPado.
  • The Central Bank of Iran (CBI) to modernize online banking transactions with tokenization announcement.
  • Kuwait Times article on rental laws in Kuwait references Ajar Online as an example of an innovator in paying rent online.

Innovation and Collaboration: The Rise of Fintech in the MENA Region

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With more than 400 attendees, more than 100 scheduled speakers, and more than 20 fintech innovators demonstrating their technologies live on stage, Finovate’s first foray into the Middle East next month is an event not to be missed.

Dubai, the largest and most populous city in the United Arab Emirates, will host FinovateMiddleEast on the 26 and 27th of February. And in addition to our trademark live, seven-minute technology demonstrations, FinovateMiddleEast will also feature a strong slate of keynote addresses, roundtable conversations, and panel discussions on some of the most contemporary themes, trends, and topics in fintech. Here’s an advance look at some of what we’ll talk about at the conference.

Day One – What do fintechs want? What do banks want? What do investors think?

How do we successfully leverage technology to help solve 21st century financial challenges for the Middle East and North Africa? Finding harmony in the different interests and agendas of technologists, banks, and investors is key to creating the kind of environment that will lead to dynamic fintech innovation. During our FinovateMiddleEast Summit Days, we’ll learn what fintechs and banks want and need in order to effectively and profitably collaborate with each other. We’ll also explore the role of investors in providing the critical capital and guidance that will help turn today’s innovators into tomorrow’s market leaders.

For all the talk of disruption, leaders in MENA countries are looking for a more constructive relationship between fintech innovation and the societies they are innovating in. This means a fintech industry that is flexible enough to serve both the sizable number of ultra high net worth and high net worth consumers in the MENA, as well as the fast-growing, mobile-inclined, social media-connected youth population. Innovations that are able to respond to needs resulting from these “second wave sectors” like wealth management and international money transfers, are as important as those catering to traditional areas like banking and payments and “hot” technologies like the blockchain.

From banking and payments to AI and blockchain

Fintech in the MENA is dominated by innovations in the banking and payments space. As much of 84% of fintech in the MENA is payments-related, per Wamda/Payfort. Digital wallets are one area where banks and fintechs are working together and providing solutions. Earlier this month, Batelco and Arab Financial Services launched a new digital wallet and payment solution. Also this month, UAE-based Noor Bank partnered with UB QFPay to offer new mobile payment solutions. We’ll take a look at just how far digital wallet adoption in the MENA region can go, and look at how the launch of Apple Pay in the UAE may provide some visibility into the future of contactless payments in the region.

At the same time, new technologies like AI, the blockchain and cryptocurrencies are being explored eagerly by fintechs, banks, and governments alike in the MENA region. Dubai-based ArabianChain announced last week that it was launching a cryptocurrency exchange. In June, a company called MAG Lifestyle Development will introduce a Sharia-compliant cryptocurrency for buying property in June. Finovate alum NCR plans to introduce bitcoin-enabled ATMs in the UAE in the spring.

We’ll examine the results of an interbank blockchain pilot involving Emirates NBD and ICICI Bank India launched last fall, as well as a look at how blockchain technology can increase efficiency and accountability for financial transactions in the GCC more broadly. We’ll also take a tour of 3D printing facilities and visit local accelerator, Future Foundation, as a prelude of sorts to our accelerator showcase on Day Two.

Day Two – Regulations and regtech as catalyst for innovation

What are the biggest challenges to the vision that fintech entrepreneurs, banks, investors, and technologists have for the MENA region? Ensuring that regulation is used as a tool to steer fintech toward its most productive possible role in society – one in which its solutions are effective, trusted, cost-effective, and widely available – is important.

So in addition to discussing future opportunities for fintech in the MENA region, we’ll take the time to understand both the current and emerging regulatory infrastructure that will define the kind of fintech that will develop in the Middle East. These topics range from helping fintechs in the region offer new, innovative Sharia-compliant products and services to anticipating the effects of the introduction of VAT in the UAE.

Part of our journey into this topic will hosted by a panel of leading fintech research analysts from firms like Gartner and Forrester who have specific expertise in the MENA region. We’ll also look at fintech regulation in the Middle East and compare it to how regulations are being developed in other areas like Asia and Europe. Do the differences between these regions – and their different regulatory needs and concerns – help us better understand how regulation and innovation should go and in hand for fintech in the MENA?  Our conversation on Day Two is designed to help us explore these issues deeply.

Uniting fintechs, banks, and investors to better serve the underbanked

There can be no discussion of financial technology without a discussion of serving the underbanked. And while this is an important conversation in all areas, it may be especially acute in the Middle East and North Africa. According to a recent report from Wamda/Payfort, more than 85% of adults in the MENA do not have access to a bank account. Moreover, as Daniel Navarro wrote last spring in the Khaleej Times, financial inclusion is a major requirement for broader economic development.

“The solutions to increase financial inclusion need to be implemented properly, customized for each market segment, include microfinance services, low cost transfers, international remittances and other digital services to leverage the economic and social development. Also, the financial inclusion initiatives shall always be accompanied by proper security measures for KYC, AML, and CFT controls.”

Our conversation looks at opportunities, challenges, and successes alike. We’ll discuss Turkey’s plan to go cashless by 2023, as well as look at what is necessary from banks, fintechs, and the rest of the players in a modern economy in order to serve “the digital person.”

Another big feature on Day Two is the accelerator showcase which spotlights fintech startups that are based in the MENA region or doing significant business in the area. Added to the Finovate format last fall, the Accelerator Showcase provides a no-middleman opportunity for attendees to see and hear first hand what some of the MENA region’s most innovative young fintech startups are developing. And by viewing MENA startups through the lens of the accelerator programs that sponsored them, we get another opportunity to see and discuss the importance of startup culture and a dynamic, supportive ecosystem when it comes to preparing the next generation of fintech innovators.

What can banks gain from fintech innovation? What can fintechs gain from bank partnership and collaboration? And what incentivizes investors to come in from the sidelines with their critical support? Join us next month in Dubai as we tackle these and other issues driving the future of fintech in the Middle East.

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.

  • Dubai-based ArabianChain launches cryptocurrency exchange, Palmex.
  • Qatar commits to building fintech hub.
  • UAE-based Noor Bank announces partnership with UB QFPay to offer new mobile payment solution.

MENA Fintech Fact E-commerce and fintech topped tech startup funding for MENA region in 2017, according to a report from Magnitt

  • Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX) inks MoU with SWIFT and seven global CSD companies to collaborate on distributed ledger technology projects.
  • Oman’s Bank Nizwa takes to the road to promote its Ladies Banking Account services.
  • Jordan’s InvestBank teams up with F5 Networks to boost cybersecurity protections.

Thought Leadership What is the key for success for technology entrepreneurs innovating in the Middle East? Arabian Business writes “The Middle East is still building towards the right start-up culture.”

  • Gulf News Banking looks at how Dubai is “charting a unique story in fintech.”
  • Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Finance announces signing of MoU with Japan’s Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group to promote financial education for Saudi youth.
  • Thomson Reuters’ ZAWYA interviews Ola Doudin, CEO and co-founder of Dubai-area cryptocurrency exchange, BitOasis.

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

Image by Tamer Fahmy

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.

  • Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) and Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) forge fintech cooperation agreement, the first of its kind for the MENA region.
  • Batelco and Arab Financial Services launch new digital mobile wallet and payment solution, bWallet.
  • Egyptian fintech Moneyfellows raises $600,000 in new funding in round led by Dubai Angel Investors and 500 Startups.

MENA Fintech Fact:

  • Jordan’s Central Bank reports online payments through online bill payment service increased by 5x in 2017, topping JD3.3 billion ($4.6 billion)
  • Islamic bank Kuwait Finance House-Bahrian (KFH) organizes FinTech Training Program.
  • Emirates NBD announces plans to introduce battery-powered smart payments cards developed by U.S.-based fintech Dynamics.

Thought Leadership – Writing about trends in global Islamic finance in Daily Fintech, Arunkumar Krishnakumar asks:  “Would the digitization drive overcome a lack of standards?”

Although the Fintech Fever hit the West over the last few years, the uptake to digitization in the Islamic Finance world has been relatively slow. Over the last year or so, this trend has been changing, and 2018 is expected to be the year when Islamic Fintech players will start emerging across the world and not just in the Islamic countries.

  • Ethereum-based blockchain venture studio ConsenSys opens office in Dubai Design District.
  • Fintech News Middle East lists its 9 Fintech Startups in the Middle East to Watch in 2018.
  • Worldpay teams up with payments provider iyzico to aide in expansion into Turkish market.

Demoers from Near & Far at FinovateMiddleEast this February

2017 was a big year for fintech investment in the Middle East.

Amazon acquired Middle Eastern e-commerce firm,, local powerhouses joined the race (i.e., Kingdom Holding Company driving Careem’s Series E funding), startup accelerators launched across the region, and overall investment soared.

So, at the start of 2018, the message is clear: Look to the Middle East for fintech investment opportunities, acquisitions, partnerships, inspiration and competition. And there’s no better place to start than Finovate in February.

For this launch event, Finovate has partnered with the UAE Ministry of Finance and joined UAE Innovation Month and Dubai Innovation Week. Signature 7-minute demos will remain at the core of FinovateMiddleEast 2018 with startup and established companies showcasing their latest fintech innovations live on stage.

Dorsum — A chatbot platform that improves the difficulties of customer acquisition for financial institutions.

ebankIT — An omnichannel banking platform that enhances digital transformation for banks and financial institutions.

efigence — The Insights Now! platform uses smart web analytics’ tools to arm banks and financial institutions with real-time data driven conclusions.

Munnypot — An automated online solution providing accessible and affordable investment advice for millions of people in the U.K. and overseas.

Ondot Systems — Provides mobile card services supplying financial institutions, card processors and cardholders with mobile applications for credit and debit card control.

RISQ — A financial software platform improving the effectiveness of corporate loan acquisition and customer management for commercial banks.

Wealth Migrate — A global, direct investment platform remedying the lack of direct investment products for middle class, overseas investors.

Zagtrader — An end-to-end pre-integrated framework that connects banks, brokers, asset managers, and investment banks to the ultra-complex global trading ecosystem with ease.

Additional companies will be announced over the next several weeks.

Register by January 11 to save $300. Book online, call +1 (888) 670-8200, or email


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.

  • Jordan’s first bank, Jordan Ahli Bank launches beta version of chatbot service.
  • Alrajih Islamic Bank for Investment and Financing selects Path Solutions’ Islamic core banking system, iMAL.
  • Mortgagetech Meets Crypto Assets: New Sharia-compliant crypto currency for purchasing property slated for June launch in Dubai.

MENA Fintech Fact: 86% of MENA area adults do not have access to a bank account. But the number of startups in the MENA region doubled from 46 to 105 from 2012 to 2015.

  • Crowdfunding platform for farmers, BOOSTani wins first prize at Startup Weekend Bekaa in Lebanon.
  • Egyptian payments firm Fawry announces plans to expand nationwide in 2018.
  • ACI Worldwide partners with HyperPay to bring real-time fraud prevention solutions to ecommerce merchants in the MENA region.

Thought Leadership Fintech – 6 disrupters facing the Middle East – Mossadiq Ali Ghanghro, Middle East Director in Transaction Services for PwC, writes about top themes in fintech in the MENA region.

  • Bahrain Middle East Bank to deploy OneSumX from Wolters Kluwer for core banking and reporting.
  • NCR to introduce bitcoin-enabled ATMS in the UAE. Join Finovate in Dubai in March for FinovateMiddleEast.
  • Moneyfellows wins MetLife Foundation Inclusion Plus competition in Egypt and Lebanon.

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

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.

  • Al Baraka Banking Group partners with Path Solutions to deploy iMAL Islamic core banking system.
  • UAE Exchange to launch gocash card and mobile app courtesy of partnership with online travel firm, Cleartrip
  • Thomson Reuters celebrates 150 years in the Middle East and North Africa at event in Egypt

MENA Fintech Fact In the Middle East and North Africa, nearly three out of every four fintech startups are based in four countries: the UAE, Egypt, Jordan, or Lebanon. Half of all MENA fintechs launched after 2012.

  • Online real estate marketplace and KPMG Global Fintech Top 50 member Wealth Migrate opens office in UAE, announces new country CEO, Lee-Ann Rush.
  • Group Chairman and CEO of Path Solutions, Mohammed Kateeb, named to World’s Top 50 Most Influential Leaders in Islamic Economy for third consecutive year.

Thought Leadership  Fintech is the new oil in the Middle East and North Africa – Forbes looks at how regulators and governments in the MENA region are “thinking more deeply about the impact that fintech companies will have on the broader economy.”

  • Entrepreneur Middle East features investor forecasts for the MENA region in 2018.
  • Alrajih Islamic Bank for Investment and Financing chooses Islamic core banking system iMAL from Path Solutions.
  • Al Baraka Banking Group (ABG), Kuwait Finance House-Bahrain (KFH-B), and Bahrain Development Bank (BDB) form fintech consortium, Algo Bahrain, to build Sharia-compliant banking solutions.

Finovate Partners with UAE Ministry of Finance

Finovate has teamed up with the UAE’s Ministry of Finance this week to support the region’s growth of financial, banking and payments technology.

Attendees of the announcement event, held earlier today, received a sneak peek of what to expect at FinovateMiddleEast, which will take place February 26 and 27 in Dubai. Today’s event featured a panel discussion titled Innovation versus Digital Disruption: Perspectives from Banks and Fintechs. During the panel, Jagadeshwaran Kothandapani and Shadab Ahmed of Citi, as well as Sara Grinstead of RAKBank talked about the need for collaboration and partnerships between fintechs and FIs, as well as the need to embrace change, adopt new technology, and manage risk.

Finovate VP Heather Stowell noted that Finovate is also embracing fintech in the UAE, saying, “Supporting fintech globally is the crux of Finovate. We are excited to showcase the region’s fintechs, as well as grow the dialogue and interest in fintech for the region and the UAE as a fintech hub.”

FinovateMiddleEast will take place during UAE Innovation Month and Dubai Innovation Week. The show will bring together early-stage startups, leading established companies, media, financial service institutions, and funders. Book your ticket before December 21 and save up to $400.

With the UAE Ministry of Finance as the strategic partner, FinovateMiddleEast is supported by platinum sponsor UAE Exchange, silver sponsor Temenos, and bronze sponsor Loxon.

Accepting Demo Applications for FinovateMiddleEast 2018

Last week, Finovate teamed up with the UAE Ministry of Finance. The partnership aims to drive awareness and support for fintech innovation in the Middle East. As part of this collaboration, FinovateMiddleEast will join the UAE Innovation Month celebration in February 2018.

For over 10 years, Finovate has been the leading showcase of financial, banking and payments technologies. And we’ve been there from the start: New York in 2007, Bay Area in 2008, London in 2010, Singapore in 2012, Hong Kong in 2016, and now Dubai in 2018.

Finovate events focus on innovative fintech showcased via 7-minute live product demonstrations. The conferences consistently attract high-impact audiences of senior-level financial and banking executives, press and industry analysts, venture capitalists, regulators, and technology entrepreneurs. FinovateMiddleEast will be no different with fintech from across the MENA region and 300+ attendees.

Join us on February 26 & 27 if you’re looking to:

  • Drive product adoption of the latest and most innovative solutions in fintech
  • Showcase new, high-impact technology in front of an influential audience
  • Generate press recognition, find customers, network with peers, raise capital, and discover partners

For more information on applying to demo, please review the brochure for prospective demoing companies, then fill out the online application by December 31 at the latest. We’ll be in touch within a few days of receiving your application.

If you have any questions, please email And if you’re unfamiliar with Finovate events, take a look at videos from the past 40+ events.

FinovateMiddleEast 2018 is sponsored by Temenos, UAE Exchange, and Loxon.

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.

  • Fidor opens regional headquarters in Dubai Silicon Oasis.
  • Saudi Stock Exchange selects Nasdaq in post-trade technology infrastructure overhaul.
  • Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) signs fintech innovation cooperation agreement with Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

MENA Fintech Fact Fintech investments in the MENA region in 2017 amounted to more than $24 million, a gain of more than 13% over the previous year. According to BCG, the MENA region has experienced the “most explosive growth” in recent years in terms global fintech funding compared to other areas.

  • Al-Thiqa Islamic Bank in Iraq goes live with new core banking technology from ICS Banks.
  • Axis Bank leverages Ripple to provide cross-border payments between Singapore and UAE.
  • Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) signs MOU with national health insurance company, Daman, to colloborate on insurtech solutions.

Thought Leadership Is MENA ready for FinTech? – Thomson Reuters blog post looks at how a balance between regulation and innovation could pave the way for greater financial inclusion for the region’s 86 percent of adults in the region without bank accounts.

  • ADGM named “Financial Center of the Year (MENA) for second year in a row by Global Investor/ISF.
  • Dubai International financial Center (DIFC) establishes $100 million fund for investments in early-stage, growth fintech startups.
  • Bahrain Economic Development Board partners with FinTech Consortium to launch “the largest dedicated fintech hub in the Middle East and Africa,” Bahrain FinTech Bay (BFB).
  • Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) signs collaboration agreements with regulators in Hong Kong.

Finovate Teams Up with UAE Ministry of Finance; Sets Date for Dubai Event

It’s official! FinovateMiddleEast has partnered with the UAE Ministry of Finance and joined the UAE Innovation Month Celebration next year. On February 26 and 27, 2018, FinovateMiddleEast will showcase the latest in fintech innovation live from the UAE’s most populous city, Dubai. This brings Finovate’s signature, fast-paced, 7-minute, demo format to the Middle East for the first time, and marks the beginning of an exciting new relationship between Finovate and the UAE.

“Supporting fintech globally is the crux of Finovate,” said Finovate Vice President Heather Stowell. “We are excited to showcase the region’s fintechs, as well as grow the dialogue and interest in fintech for the region and the UAE as a fintech hub.”

Register by Thursday, December 21 and lock in our lowest rate for FinovateMiddleEast – a savings of $400.

Now in five locations around the world – New York, London, Silicon Valley, Hong Kong, and Dubai – Finovate brings together early-stage fintech startups, established industry veterans, financial institutions, VCs, media, and more for an exploration into the future of fintech today. And with the addition of keynote speakers and panel discussions, Finovate is now the place for deep dives as well as live demos. Join us as we explore regional and global trends in fintech, the impact of regulations, and the opportunities for innovation thanks to breakthroughs in machine learning and AI.

The partnership between Finovate and the UAE Ministry of Finance will be formally announced at a launch event on December 12 at the Conrad Dubai Hotel. The event will feature a welcome address from His Excellency Younis Al Khouri, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Finance, UAE, and feature a panel discussion titled Innovation vs Digital Disruption: Perspectives from Banks and Fintechs. To enquire about attending this launch event, please email

For information about FinovateMiddleEast, visit our information page.

FinovateMiddleEast is partnered with United Arab Emirates Ministry of Finance, and sponsored by Temenos and Loxon Solutions.

East vs. East: A Comparison of Regional Fintech Trends

With our newest conferences– FinovateAsia and FinovateMiddleEast– back-to-back, we wanted to examine unique trends to those regions. Each place has its own distinctive culture, and with that comes not only individual financial needs, but also a particular set of regulatory rules. These factors not only create different fintech environments but also heavily influence the trends of each region.

With that, we’ve dissected both regions and the trends that are most popular to each area. While both of these geographical areas share most of the trends listed, this classification showcases which are most popular in each area.

Asia Pacific

Population of around 4.5 billion people

  • Regulatory environment
    Following the Ezubao ponzi scheme in 2016, regulators in Asia Pacific have increased their focus on regulating non-traditional fintech. The same is true for traditional banks, for which regulators have stepped up their stress testing requirements this year to include more intricate and diverse scenarios. According to a survey conducted at the Thomson Reuters ASEAN Regulatory Summit 2016, the 500 delegates cited three specific areas of focus on misconduct. A total of 56% cited mis-selling financial products, 24% cited money laundering and 12% cited market manipulation. Integrity, which is key to any regulatory outfit, seems to be lacking in this region, however. In the same survey mentioned above, 63% of delegates said they were “unhappy” with how regulators dealt with misconduct issues.
  • Unique trends
    • Mobile wallets
      In the U.S., consumers have failed to adopt mobile wallets, even after big players such as Apple and Google have made them accessible. In Asia, however, where shopping and technology are king and queen, the use of deals, offers, and promotion to speed mobile wallet adoption has been successful. In fact, a recent Forrester Research study found that 76% of metro Chinese consumers use mobile wallets or are interested in it. In rural regions, however, cash remains king.
    • Blockchain
      An increasing number of applications for the blockchain in fintech combined with a record amount of funding into the region have boosted the use and adoption of the blockchain in Asia Pacific. Currently, more than 80% of bitcoin transactions are made in Chinese Yuan. And don’t forget about Singapore, whose central bank recently announced plans to implement a tokenized Singapore dollar on an Ethereum-based Blockchain.
    • Leveraging AI
      Chinese companies are currently leading the global war for AI. Mega corporations such as Alibaba, Tencent, Ping An, and Baidu are leveraging the technology not only for payments and insurance, but also for personal loans, SME loans, credit ratings, wealth management, crowdfunding, and currency exchange. Additionally, more consumers in Asia embrace technology and are less likely to fear the loss of privacy that may come with the use of AI.

Middle East/North Africa (MENA)

Population of around 381 million people

  • Regulatory environment
    When it comes to bank ownership and capital disbursement, the MENA region has stringent requirements. On average, however the World Bank reports that central banks in MENA are weak when it comes to supervisory efforts. As an example, 69% and 79% of MENA countries reported having the power to suspend or remove either a bank director or a manager, respectively. These figures are generally in the 90th percentile when it comes to other emerging market and developing economies. However, as with any area with a wide range of economic freedom, there is a mixed regulatory picture in this region.
  • Unique trends:
    • Sharia-compliant banking
      The MENA region contains the highest percentage of Muslims in the world. This group faithfully adheres to Shariah Law, which prohibits usury. Banking models that circumvent the paying of interest include Mudarabah (Profit and loss sharing), Wadiah (safekeeping), Musharaka (joint venture), Murabahah (cost plus), and Ijar (leasing).
    • Cross-border transactions
      Internet usage and ecommerce activity are both on the rise in this region. In the United Arab Emirates, for example, the number of internet users has reached 99% and online shoppers represent 62%, which is 25% more than last year. Much of the online purchasing activity represents cross-border transactions. Outside of ecommerce, trade finance in the oil-rich region has long been important, and cross-border money transfers play a large role in this.
    • Underbanked technologies
      In the MENA region, 86% of adults don’t have a bank account. When compared to the 31% in Asia Pacific lacking access to traditional financial services and the 39% global average of underbanked individuals, there is a much larger opportunity for startups in the MENA region to serve this demographic.

You can get a closer look at fintech in Asia by taking a look at the demo videos (available soon) from FinovateAsia last week. And for fintech in the MENA region, check out our FinovateMiddleEast conference early next year.

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