FinovateMiddleEast Best of Show Winners Announced

Our second FinovateMiddleEast conference is in the books! And after a full day of live fintech demos, our attendees have made their voices heard as to which fintech innovations are most deserving of Best of Show honors. Congratulations to all of our demoing companies for their hard work, and a hearty thanks to our attendees for their votes in our Best of Show competition.

With that, here are the winners of Best of Show at FinovateMiddleEast 2019:

Amber Labs for its Bitcoin Bank, where people anywhere in the world can get all the benefits of a robust, global financial network, without the technical and jurisdictional restrictions, nor the inherent asymmetries, associated with the modern banking system.

efigence for its EFI4 Digital Banking Platform, a seamless digital banking experience that guides retail banking customers through the complexity of the banking world using a three-screen environment.

In addition to all of the companies that demonstrated their technologies live on stage at FinovateMiddleEast this week, we would like to thank our partners and sponsors for their participation and support. We also extend a special thanks to our Strategic Partner, the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Finance, whose guidance in this our second FinovateMiddleEast has been invaluable.

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 two 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 2019 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
FinovateMiddleEast 2018
FinovateEurope 2018
FinovateSpring 2018
FinovateFall 2018
FinovateAsia 2018
FinovateAfrica 2018
FinovateEurope 2019
FinovateSpring 2019
FinovateFall 2019
FinovateAsia 2019

Tracking the Trends at FinovateMiddleEast

FinovateMiddleEast begins tomorrow, which means our demoing companies are rehearsing their pitches of the newest technologies they plan to show off on stage.

What’s hot in the MENA region right now? The best way to find that out is to attend FinovateMiddleEast (taking place at the Ritz Carlton DIFC in Dubai November 20 and 21). The second best way is to take a look at the following word cloud that depicts trends from the live demos that will take the stage on the second day of the show.

Aside from the obvious banking trend that appears front and center of the word cloud, the following fintech sub sectors are expected to make a big impact at FinovateMiddleEast this week:

  • Underbanked
  • Artificial intelligence and machine learning
  • APIs and SDKs
  • Design

We’re looking forward to starting the conference tomorrow with a keynote presentation from Chris Skinner. For more information about the discussion content, check out our summary of day one: Banking on the Future in the Age of the Customer and day two: Digitization, Disruption, and the Business of Banking; and take a look at our sneak peek series for in-depth information about the live demos.

FinovateMiddleEast: Digitization, Disruption, and the Business of Banking

FinovateMiddleEast begins next week, November 20-21, in Dubai, UAE. A few days ago, we introduced some of the themes that will dominate the discussion on Day One of our conference. Today we’ll take a look at what we’ve got in store for attendees on Day Two.

In addition to our live fintech demos (check out our FinovateMiddleEast Sneak Peek series for more information on our demoing companies), Day Two will feature a variety of conversations on topics ranging from challenger banks and digital disruption to small business banking and the future of work in an increasingly automated world.

Challenger banks and digital disruptors: The future of banking?

  • With a wave of new digital banks entering the sector, how are these new challengers using digital and technology to improve the customer experience?
  • How, as an incumbent bank, can you take inspiration and reinvent your organization in the face of the threats challenger banks present?
  • What can we learn from exploring the different models of challenger bank that are emerging, their advantages, and how to harness elements of their model to tackle customer pain points better?

Digitization and the future of work

  • Exploring how your team looks today and how it will look in the future as more technologies are introduced into day-to-day-processes.
  • Discussing the future of work: what is HSBC doing to upskill its staff and future-proof its workforce to adapt to change?
  • Harnessing the balance between automation and a better-skilled workforce in order to improve the customer experience

Defining innovation: Case study of building processes and strategies for success

  • Defining expectations to set out measurement criteria for innovation.
  • Building channels and processes for the complete spectrum of innovation, from incremental to game-changing.
  • Discovering what motivates people to participate and what difficulties have to be overcome: learning what works and what does not.
  • Moving from idea to reality: how to implement brilliant ideas quickly.

Other topics to be featured on Day Two of FinovateMiddleEast include:

We will also host a Mentoring Power Panel with representatives from AMANIcircle, Startupbootcamp, Intesa Sanpaolo, Radicle, and Angivest Ventures.

Tickets to FinovateMiddleEast are still available. Visit our FinovateMiddleEast page to register and get more information on how to plan your visit.

FinovateMiddleEast Sneak Peek: Okanii

A look at the companies demoing live at FinovateMiddleEast on November 20 and 21, 2019 in Dubai. Register today and save your spot.

Okanii solves all of the problems of moving value around the world by creating the true internet of value.


  • Cost – Okanii offers a 100x cost reduction that makes $0.01 micro-payments profitable
  • Security – Quantum proof hyper-tokenization, unbreakable, zero fraud
  • Scalability – easily supports all of the worlds’ transactions

Why it’s great
Okanii is the opposite of blockchain. Make payments/ transactions in any asset (181 currencies, stocks, bonds, commodities, real estate) across any use-case (P2P, B2C, B2B), instantly, securely, and at no cost.


Grant Colhoun, CEO
Colhoun is a serial entrepreneur, payments expert, and a recovering investment banker.

FinovateMiddleEast Sneak Peek: Circlys

A look at the companies demoing live at FinovateMiddleEast on November 20 and 21, 2019 in Dubai. Register today and save your spot.

Circlys is a social saving plan based on circles model (rotating savings and credit association /committees) with trusted users that have been risk accessed.


  • On-time payment
  • Flexible plans
  • Long term saving benefits
  • Access to liquidity that fits any financial plans

Why it’s great
Circulate with Circlys and according to plan.


Hanan Alanazi, Operations manager

Khaled Hassoun, CEO
Hassoun has eight plus years of experience in tech start-ups in which he undertook multiple roles in managing business aspects.

FinovateMiddleEast Sneak Peek: fcase

A look at the companies demoing live at FinovateMiddleEast on November 20 and 21, 2019 in Dubai. Register today and save your spot.

Fraud prevention has many layers, each with its own view. However, fraudsters attack across all layers. With fcase holistic fraud investigations, you can now manage all fraud from one mission control.


  • Centralized fraud prevention automation
  • Holistic manual fraud investigations
  • Fraud mission control

Why it’s great
Built from the ground up to massively manage your fraud operations from one mission control, fcase is one golden source of fraud data, delivering a reduction in fraud, customer friction and improves efficiency.


Bulent Ozkan, VP

Barry Bowen, Global Head of Sales
Bowen has 25 years of experience building, implementing, and marketing fraud prevention systems.

Looking Beyond Funding at Fintech in MENA

Fintech is a global game, so why don’t we always hear about all of the global players? The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, for example is often overlooked when it comes to fintech.

The Milken Institute, a non-profit think tank, recently looked beyond the borders of the U.S., Europe, and Asia to better understand the state of fintech in MENA– specifically in the UAE and Bahrain. The findings come in the Milken Institute’s recent report The Rise of FinTech in the Middle East: An Analysis of the Emergence of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

The publication reports that the region receives only 1% of all VC fintech investment across the globe. But considering funding numbers alone paints a different picture than looking at fintech activity as a whole in the region. Looking beyond funding numbers, the report details the state of fintech in the region, its challenges, and what to watch.

MENA’s fintech pulse

Just getting started

It may be true that the rest of the globe receives 99% of all VC fintech investment, but the UAE and Bahrain are just getting started. Policymakers began forming fintech-specific initiatives in 2017 and, with only a couple of years of development, there is still plenty of time for the countries to grow the depth and breadth of fintech in the region.

Potential clients

The MENA region has around 450 million residents, an ample population to support a wide range of fintech initiatives. What’s more, half of all residents are under 25 years old and more likely to be tech savvy, having grown up with technology touching almost every aspect of their lives.

Geographical advantages

MENA acts as a gateway to neighboring Asia, which has two positive aspects. First, it is ripe with potential fintech partners. Second, Asia has a large population of financially underserved residents in need of the types of alternative financial services fintechs offer.


The region’s fintech sector is growing at a 30% compounded annual growth rate. By 2022, it is estimated that 465 fintechs in the region will garner $2+ billion in annual funding, a 25x improvement when compared to the $80 million in funding fintechs brought in in 2017.

What to watch

Milken’s report states that the following fintech subsectors are emerging regularly throughout the MENA region:

  • Payments
  • Remittances
  • Insurtech
  • Lending
  • Regtech
  • Digital banking
  • Crowdfunding
  • Blockchain
  • Cryptocurrency

And of that list, payments dominate. The fintech scene in MENA is comprised of 85% payments, money transfers, and remittances companies. This, the report details, is fueled by the prevalence of mobile devices and internet connectivity.


Lack of local talent

As with many regions across the globe, MENA struggles to find local talent with specialized fintech expertise. Perhaps exacerbating the issue, the region’s major growth sectors such as traditional financial services, oil, and healthcare attract many of the experts from the talent pool.


Again, MENA startups are not unique in their struggle with regulation. However, in its report, Milken pointed out that MENA fintechs often face extreme regulatory hurdles that outshadow typical regulatory challenges in their number and complexity. Examples include Visa requirements, licensing fees, quotas for employee hiring, and square footage requirements.

Cost of doing business

Regulation is just one aspect that adds to the cost of doing business in the region. Other factors are a high cost of living, licensing, and work visa costs.

For a more complete picture of the state of fintech in the region I highly recommend reading the full report. And to see MENA’s newest technology demoed live, and to hear from the most renowned industry leaders in fintech in the region, be sure to check out FinovateMiddleEast, taking place on November 20 and 21 in Dubai. Tickets are still available.

FinovateMiddleEast: Banking on the Future in the Age of the Customer

How can technology make the movement of money more efficient and secure? How can financial inclusion and financial wellness lead to more prosperity and happiness for more people?

At FinovateMiddleEast next week (November 20-21) in Dubai, we’ll answer these and other questions as we investigate the current state of fintech innovation in the Middle East. Below is a sample of some of the sessions we’ll feature on Day One of the conference. We’ll take a look at our Day Two agenda later this week.

Building the bank of the future – Finance in 2030

Looking ahead to the next 10 years of banking innovation, as well as walking you through the last 10 years of the world and banking digital transformation, this keynote presentation will show the context and tangible examples of state of the art digital implementations in financial institutions across three continents, and give you an outlook into future developments.

The power of partnerships: Collaboration with fintechs for mutual benefit

With an ever-increasing number of startups bringing new, agile and fresh approaches to traditional processes, and banks bringing the visibility, trust and backing to deliver innovation, how do you assess which model of partnership will work for you?

The challenges facing fintech: Raising capital

  • Assessing the leaders seeking to fill the funding gap in the fintech ecosystem
  • Exploring the current conditions to make fintech development increasingly viable
  • Supporting fintech from the outset and identifying investment opportunities
  • Examining how regulatory changes are incentivizing growth: looking to accelerators and sandboxes to incentivize growth
  • Overcoming the funding challenges for financial innovation, and assessing how far we can expect funding gaps to be filled as investment arms continue to emerge
  • Learning from overseas: how VCs across the globe approach funding, and what can be gleaned
  • Understanding how the VC ecosystem will continue to evolve in the region

Using technology to deliver greater customer value: The customer-focused age

  • Understanding the new customer-centric, experience-based economy, and adapting accordingly
  • Working at speed to meet customer needs in exciting and relevant ways
  • Embedding client excellence into company mindsets: moving from a process-led to customer-led culture, and empowering teams to put the customer at the centre of business decisions
  • Managing client experience with limited budgets: overcoming hurdles to deliver customer satisfaction
  • Personalizing interactions and devising cross-selling models: making the most of your customer interactions
  • Exploring the importance of increase digital touchpoints to improve efficiency and meet customer expectations
  • Harnessing digital services can enhance customer satisfaction and drive loyalty

Financial inclusion: Where are we now, and what lies ahead?

  • Exploring the latest banking initiatives to bring access to financial services to the financial excluded
  • Determining the untapped opportunities, from loans to payments initiatives, of reaching the unbanked
  • Showing how financial democratization initiatives can be a force for good, improving wider society

Innovation – Moonshot thinking and the art of walking the earth

Why does innovation sometimes need time and patience? Some experiences from the wealth management area.

Innovation is kind of like the giant leap for mankind – sometimes you make it by chance and change history, but more often it does takes a lot of patience and many small steps for the “mooonshot thinking” to materialize. And interestingly, what you achieve alongside your long march may be more successful than what you get in the end…

Regulation: a catalyst for change?

  • Defining the regulatory priorities of the region, and where governments are becoming increasingly involved.
  • Overcoming the challenges of meeting different regulatory expectations to allow for scaling.
  • How do regulations in different regions differ, and what can we expect moving forward?
  • Now that sandboxes are established in the region, what have the regulators’ experiences been to date, what do companies need to know ahead of applying, and what trends are regulators seeing amongst applications to sandboxes?

Transforming the customer experience: an inside-out and outside-in approach for true customer-centricity

An outside-in approach means creating experiences for customers and establishing what your customers are looking for. An inside-out approach means determining how organizations need to change the way we do things.

Driving and delivering end-to-end digital innovation

  • Applying strategies for cohesive innovation and transformation across your organization, and how to drive change
  • Developing digital innovation initiatives with the customer front and center
  • Nurturing talent: adapting internal culture and incentivizing talent in order to bring the most innovative people into the fold

Tickets to FinovateMiddleEast are still available. Visit our FinovateMiddleEast page to register and get more information on how to plan your visit.

FinovateMiddleEast Sneak Peek: Hakbah

A look at the companies demoing live at FinovateMiddleEast on November 20 and 21, 2019 in Dubai. Register today and save your spot.

Hakbah is an Islamic fintech startup with a mission to increase financial inclusion via its Smart Cooperative Saving Platform. The focus is on digitizing traditional financial habits (like Jamiya).


  • Provide a smart and easy digital solution in a smart savings platform
  • Increase financial inclusion via savings products
  • Move the informal financial channel into a financial system

Why it’s great
Hakbah is capturing and digitizing the consumer’s traditional financial habits embedded within the financial system. The solution also offers savings products for underbanked individuals.


Naif AbuSaida, Founder and CEO
AbuSaida has seven years of experience in banking, cash management, money transfers, operational risk, and financial risk. He has 13 years of experience in marketing and communications and corporate strategy.

FinovateMiddleEast Sneak Peek: FinFirst

A look at the companies demoing live at FinovateMiddleEast on November 20 and 21, 2019 in Dubai. Register today and save your spot.

FinFirst is an end-to-end financial services aggregator that pairs businesses and consumers with banks and NBFIs and offers fully automated onboarding, credit assessment, and fulfillment.


  • Serves businesses and consumers as an AI-driven aggregator of financial services
  • Supports financial inclusion and serving the underbanked
  • Offers alternative lending and alternative investing

Why it’s great
FinFirst is a one-stop shop for financial services.


Omar Mehanna, Chief Executive Officer – UAE
Mehanna is an award-winning, commercially-minded business leader with over 25 years of banking and investment experience with leading international financial institutions and early stage/growth businesses.

Abbas Hijazi, Chief Executive Officer
Hijazi has originated and executed landmark transactions in M&A and corporate finance. He has expertise in fintech, private equity, venture capital, real estate, and M&A.

FinovateMiddleEast Sneak Peek: JuicyScore

A look at the companies demoing live at FinovateMiddleEast on November 20 and 21, 2019 in Dubai. Register today and save your spot.

JuicyScore provides next generation device authentication and data analytics. The company makes the internet safer via improving end-user security and alternative data engineering without using personal or sensitive data.


  • Robust device authentication technology stack and wide output data vector
  • End-user security that does not utilize personal data
  • Worldwide accessibility based on open API principles

Why it’s great
Every online trace leads to valuable data which is safe, predictive, and extremely powerful for fraud prevention, risk management, and financial inclusion purposes.


Alexander Akhlomov, Chief Product Officer and Co-Founder
Akhlomov has extensive experience in product development and information services for financial institutions, together with expertise in risk management and portfolio analytics.

Andrew Reddikh, Chief Technology Officer
Reddikh has extensive engineering experience in multiple areas such as travel, banking, and finance. He has worked with many backend and frontend tools including GoLang, Java, PHP, NodeJS, JavaScript, and ReactJS.

FinovateMiddleEast Sneak Peek: DAPI

A look at the companies demoing live at FinovateMiddleEast on November 20 and 21, 2019 in Dubai. Register today and save your spot.

DAPI is an API that connects applications to banks.


  • Simple integration for MENA-wide bank connectivity
  • Access to end users financial information in their bank accounts
  • Payment initiation and automation

Why it’s great
A one-stop shop for fintech infrastructure in MENA, DAPI is the first unified banking API in the region.


Mohammed Aziz, Co-Founder and CEO
Aziz is an innovator, tech entrepreneur and fintech expert who built successful tech startups prior to cofounding DAPI, which he is building with the vision to disrupt the fintech landscape in MENA.