Top 5 FinTech announcements from mid-October 2020 for the UAE
By Edil Corneille
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the largest FinTech hub in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and home to more than 46 per cent of all FinTech companies in the region. As of October 2019, the country accounted for around 47 per cent of all FinTech deals, and more than 69 per cent of FinTech funding in the region. As the UAE aspires to position itself as the world’s leading technology hub, Dubai’s appetite for innovation is also growing at a rapid pace. Dubai has set its eyes on disruptive FinTech start-ups to achieve its goals.
Payments, insurance, remittances, online lending, digital banking, blockchain, and cryptocurrency have witnessed most investments within the FinTech sector. The COVID-19 pandemic has not stopped the banks of the country who are increasingly rolling out new initiatives with the power of FinTech. Increased collaborations with suppliers are enabling banks to reach out to the wider masses and promote financial inclusion. This segment is expected to rise exponentially. The adoption of digital banking with technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, and robotic process automation (RPA), amongst others, are being witnessed. This will transpire to a reduction in branches that has been facilitated in times where social distancing is the new norm. Below is the list of the top announcements within the FinTech space that transpired since mid-October.
Commercial Bank of Dubai and NOW Money
Commercial Bank of Dubai (CBD) has partnered with NOW Money, a digital account service, to provide accounts and cards targeted specifically at low-income customers.
NOW Money will open accounts for existing CBD customers (previously known as Rateb customers) with immediate effect, allowing these customers to benefit from a digital experience that is said to be without friction and avail a range of low-cost financial services. These accounts will also be offered to customers currently not banking with CBD. NOW Money and CBD believe that this solution will empower customers and provide a personal and convenient financial experience that has been lacking in the market to date.
Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank
Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB), an Islamic financial institution, announced the launch of its remote sales platform. This will enable customers to converse with ADIB and apply for personal finance, covered cards, takaful, and other banking products without the requirement of visiting the bank’s premises. Since the platform’s launch, the bank has reported that over half of ADIB card sales are being conducted on the remote sales platform.
The platform is equipped with virtual banking tools, including online application and electronic signature services, thereby providing customers with a seamless and convenient banking experience. The platform also integrates virtual communications tools, including video conferencing and real-time screen sharing, to boost collaboration between customers and sales representatives.
The virtual sales platform is the latest addition to ADIB’s suite of solutions allowing customers to access banking services remotely. Previously, the bank introduced a digital booking service, enabling customers to schedule their branch visits ahead of time through the online banking platform and mobile banking app. In addition, customers can virtually update their personal information such as their Emirates ID, Passport, and contact details without having to visit the branch.
Hong Kong-based Liquefy has been granted in-principle approval to operate a Private Financing Platform (PFP) for the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), in line with the jurisdiction’s wider regulatory regime for digital assets and securities. Once granted in full, Liquefy will be able to offer tokenized securities backed by real world assets such as private companies, venture funds and other alternative investments to investors in the UAE on its Alternative Global Marketplace.
Strategically, the license enables Liquefy to complement its asset origination strategy for seamless end-to-end tokenization, while also consolidating its presence in the UAE, building on the existing joint venture with The Private Office of Sheikh Saeed Bin Ahmed Al Maktoum and SEED Group in Dubai. The UAE has positioned itself to be a blockchain progressive region with initiatives such as the Dubai 2020 Blockchain Initiative and Emirates Blockchain Strategy 2021.
Liquefy is a technology solution and consultancy that enables business models through blockchain technology and digitization. The Liquefy Digitisation Platform is a platform that provides the tools for digital securities issuance, alongside with a comprehensive compliance protocol for over 50 jurisdictions.
HPD LendScape and Emirates Development Bank
London-based HPD LendScape, an international secured lending platform vendor, has partnered with Emirates Development Bank (EDB) to launch UAE’s National Supply Chain Finance (SCF) platform. This gives UAE businesses improved access to working capital, particularly as they cope with the added pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The project is supported by the UAE Government and was developed through the close collaboration between HPD LendScape, EDB, and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group. HPD LendScape is offering a complete solution to EDB, providing ongoing expert advisory support as a close partner to the bank as well as implementing the digital platform.
The initial phase of the project offering a payables finance solution has now gone live. The next phase is set to provide a comprehensive suite of buyer and supplier centric SFC variations, including Islamic Finance products. HPD will also help EDB set up a new Centre of Excellence that will provide expert support to local funders.
Mastercard and Amazon.ae
The two parties have entered a partnership to offer customers exclusive access to value-added benefits and online savings. Customers who sign up for and use their Mastercard Platinum, World and World Elite Mastercard debit and credit cards issued by banks in the UAE, will receive a complimentary annual Amazon Prime membership.
Shoppers can now engage with an e-commerce marketplace that offers added-value. The collaboration aims at strengthening digital transformation in a world that is changing the way consumers interact with products, services and brands. Ease, immediacy, relevance and security are the new hallmarks of what consumers value as they seek more convenience as they make purchase decisions.
Mastercard has also mentioned that it is also committed to the security of consumers and merchants alike, through its advanced tokenisation technology. This ensures that as consumers go online, they also remain safe. Previously announced in June, globally, Amazon has started using Mastercard tokens for transactions to provide a seamless online shopping experience for their consumers.
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