Looking East for Fintech Trends

FinovateMiddleEast will take place February 26 and 27 in Dubai.

We’re taking the fintech conversation to a new region this year, and with a new territory, comes new themes, trends, banking interests, and startup portfolios. FinovateMiddleEast, scheduled for February 26 and 27 in Dubai, will showcase 20+ companies’ newest fintech innovations in Finovate’s signature 7-minute demo format. For more about these companies, check out the presenter announcement. Then tune into our blog series over the next few weeks for a sneak peek of the new technology we will unveil on stage.

Analyzing regional trends

For the Middle East debut, we’re going beyond our traditional demo-only format. Through keynote speeches, panel discussions, and fireside chats, we’re taking the discussion further. Here are some of the hot-button issues we’ll explore:

Accelerator opportunities

Over the past 10 years, accelerators and bootcamps have played a crucial role in helping startups not only fast-track their ideas into working realities, but also fostering their key partnerships with banks and major financial institutions. And while fintech accelerators have existed for many years, emerging fintech hubs are placing greater emphasis on them as a means to accelerate innovation. In this session, we’ll look at how Fintech Hive at Dubai International Finance Center (DIFC) is doing this.

Through an interactive session, we’ll take a closer look at how Fintech Hive at DIFC is creating a supportive regulatory framework and how it enhances innovation, growth and testing new fintech ideas.

Cross-border payments

Large firms such as IBM and Mastercard are leveraging the blockchain for a less expensive and faster way to transfer funds. Additionally, startups such as KlickEx, Transferwise, and The Currency Cloud have each launched their own competing platforms. The application of this technology is already in place. In fact, last October, India-based ICICI Bank and Emirates NBD announced they made a cross-border transaction using the blockchain. With money on the move in today’s global environment, it’s time to start paying attention.

In a keynote discussion titled The Future of Cross Border Money Movements and The Direction They Are Headed, Steve Naude, Head of Middle East and Africa at Transferwise, will share his vision for the future of cross-border transactions.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) was one of the hottest fintech trends in 2017 and will surely dominate the conversation in 2018, as well. The enabling technology is no longer simply a “nice to have,” add-on feature for banks and fintechs; it is the norm. Common applications include using AI to create chatbots to have a human-like conversation with clients, bolster application security by monitoring consumer behavior to detect non-normalities, and help consumers understand budgets and spending behavior to increase savings.

Fintech guru Paul Schulte will deliver the keynote discussion on AI. Schulte’s resume includes the U.S. House of Representatives, White House, and International Trade Commission. Additionally, he served as an advisor to the IDA in Singapore, Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC), Hong Kong Stock Exchange, SEBI and Malaysian Securities Commission on developments in financial technology. With such a broad outlook, the audience is sure to get a global view of AI usage in banking.

Dubai’s local startup ecosystem

Fintech is global, but the focus of startups is uniquely regional. For a distinctive look at fintech in MENA, several companies will participate in rapid, three-minute pitches, followed by interactive Q&A. Here’s a look at a few:

  • Democrance, an insurance technology company with a mission to create partnerships that make insurance accessible for those who need it most but can afford it least
  • Maliyya, a platform that is Shariah compliant for both borrowers and investors
  • Qlikcash, an app-based payment platform that allows users to send and receive payments both locally and internationally
  • ZagTrader, a ready-to-deploy brokerage and asset management platform


While traditional payment systems exist across the globe, payment technology extends far beyond swapping cash, swiping credit cards, or even clicking “Order now.” Fresh iterations of mobile wallets have been pushing to the forefront of in-person payment methodologies, particularly in the Middle East and Asia. This has been amplified by the increased popularity of IoT devices, especially wearables. New Zealand-based WestPac, in fact, launched its own line of wearable payment devices called PayWear this week.

But how many of these developments are useful or simply noise? In our Payments Transformation panel, a group of experts will discuss and debate what’s working, what’s not, and what’s next.

Blockchain and Bitcoin

Are we in a bubble? That’s the question our panel will investigate during this half hour session. Increasingly, fintech startups are leveraging the enabling capability of the blockchain for more than just payments: The immutable ledger also offers the ability to track and manage identities, manage smart contracts, and create data transparency. While these capabilities are unlikely just a passing fad, what about Bitcoin, other cryptocurrencies, and ICOs?

On the first day of 2017, Bitcoin surpassed $1,000 for the first time since 2014. Now, 10 months later, the price is reaching all-time highs, having spiked up to a record high today of more than $6,200. Between the inflated price and public comments from high-profile players such as Warren Buffet, who proposed Bitcoin is in “bubble territory,” and JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, who suggested Bitcoin is a “fraud,” there’s a lot to consider about its future success.

Featuring industry leaders and big banks

In addition to discussing key trends, industry leaders and big banks will share their views on the state of fintech and how they are addressing key issues.

  • Chris Skinner, Founder and Chairman at The Financial Services Club and Independent Commentator, Author, and Fintech Guru
  • Suvo Sarkar, Senior Executive Vice President & Group Head, Retail Banking & Wealth Management at Emirates NBD
  • Emre Karter, Citi Managing Director, Head of Treasury and Trade Solutions, MENAPT at Citi

And for the latest, check out the full, two-day agenda and stay tuned to the blog!

The Future of Fintech in Dubai

In the fight for the fintech title — London, Berlin, Barcelona, New York, Silicon Valley, Sydney, Hong Kong, Singapore, Cape Town, Abu Dhabi — Dubai is a heavy weight. With fintech investment set to grow 270% in the Middle East in 2017, the future of fintech might be in Dubai.

Join us on February 26 and 27 to find out.

Supported by Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), FinovateMiddleEast will keep demos at its core while introducing content driven panels, regulatory perspectives and world-class keynotes tailored to address the evolution of financial services and the impact on both the providers and the end-users.

See the speakers. See the demoing companies. See the regional startups. And save $200 when buying your ticket by October 26.


First Wave of Demo Companies Driving Fintech Innovation in the Middle East

By the end of 2017, fintech investments in the Middle East are expected to have grown by 2.7x. As governments and financial leaders diversify away from a petroleum-based economy, the focus is on fintech.

But who will capitalize on this ecosystem of fintech innovation? Foreign brands like Amazon (who acquired Middle Eastern e-commerce firm, Souq.com, earlier this year), local powerhouses like Kingdom Holding Company (who recently led Uber-esque Careem’s Series E funding) or both?

Either way, 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 2018.

Finovate’s signature 7-minute demos will remain at the core of FinovateMiddleEast with dozens of companies showcasing their latest fintech innovations live on stage. Here’s the first wave of demoing companies to check out. The event will take place February 26 and 27:

CASHOFF — A service for collecting and analyzing consumers’ financial data that gives banks complete knowledge about consumers (online banking, PFM, scoring, sales, loyalty).

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.

Everus Technologies — Offers Everus World, a product that fosters fintech challenges, convenience, and public education and awareness for millennials, traders, and gamers.

Innofis — Provides Bank Virtual Assistant, a platform that uses natural language, artificial intelligence, and analytics to create frictionless interaction and sales efficiency.

Moven — A financial wellness platform targeting declining branch revenue for banks around the world.

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

NymCard — Offers smart mobile technology providing an alternative to the limited capabilities of digital payment products for the banked and underbanked population in MENA.

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

Quisk — A payment network breaking up the exclusivity of current mobile payment technologies for anyone with a mobile phone (not just a smartphone).

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

SwipeStox — A social network for stock trading that cuts through the complexity around financial investing for newbie and professional investors.

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

W.UP — Offers Sales.UP, a digital banking sales and engagement tool that meets financial institutions’ need of customer insights and personalised automated marketing campaigns.

Additional companies will be announced over the next couple months.

Through the expanded Finovate model, the Dubai debut will also feature fast-paced, short-form discussions from industry leaders. Content-driven panels, regulatory perspectives, and world-class keynotes will address themes and topics relevant to the MENA market and broader economy as well.

See the agenda, and stay tuned — new speakers are added weekly.

Save $200 when you register for FinovateMiddleEast by October 26.



Fan the Fintech Flames in Dubai this December

While many have been around for the fintech explosion over the past several years, few have been there for the sparks. For over 10 years, Finovate has fanned the fintech flames: New York in 2007. Bay Area in 2008. London in 2010. Singapore in 2012. Hong Kong in 2016. With the support of the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and its Fintech Hive at DIFC, Finovate expands to Dubai on February 26 and 27, 2018.

A region widely known for its abundant supply of black gold and tall buildings, Middle East fintech investments are set to grow by 270% in 2017. As these governments and financial powerhouses look to diversify away from a petroleum-based economy and rebalance their agendas, focus on innovation, startups, SMEs and financial technology is heating up.

Our signature 7-minute demos will remain at the core of FinovateMiddleEast with 28 companies showcasing their latest fintech innovations live on stage. With applications from the Middle East, United States, Europe, South America, and Southeast Asia, we’ll reflect regional and international trends.

Through the expanded Finovate model, the Dubai debut will also feature fast-paced, short-form discussions from industry leaders. Content-driven panels, regulatory perspectives, and world-class keynotes will address themes and topics relevant to the MENA market and broader economy as well. So far, 2018 speakers include:

See the agenda here, and stay tuned — additional speakers will be added on a rolling basis and demoing companies will be announced in early October.

Fan the fintech flames with us. Save $400 when you register by this Thursday, August 17.