Top 40 Fintech influencers to follow in the Middle East

Over the last couple of years, several changes in technology have an impact on financial and banking services as well. Now everyone is aware of the term FinTech which means usage of technology in the financial sector. Definitely, fintech influencers had their piece of share in making fintech an enormous thing by sharing their ideas and influencing the world of techno-finance. Along with several other nations, the Middle East also have seen many influencers who helped in Fintech growth.

Here’s a list of top Fintech influencers in the Middle East region (not in a specific order)

1. Raja Al Mazrouei

Raja Al Mazrouei is the Executive Vice President of FinTech Hive at the Dubai International Financial Centre(DIFC). She works with an aim to make DIFC as the region’s best innovative destination for Fintech.

2. Arif Amiri

Arif Amiri is the Cheif Executing Officer at Dubai International Financial Center(DIFC). He manages the strategic and operational functions of the center. Currently, DIFC is working towards the fintech development which is a part Arif’s vision for DIFC.

3. Leigh Flounders

Leigh Flounders is the Senior Vice President Head of Digital Strategy and Engagement at Emirates NBD. He bagged several awards till date, amongst which The 2017 South By Southwest(SXSW) Conference FinTech & Payments pitch winner deserves a special mention.

4. Craig Moore

Craig Moore is the founder of Beehive which is the first peer-to-peer lending platform in the Middle East and North Africa(MENA) region. Beehive was launched in November 2014, it connects businesses seeking finance and investors. Till date, it has provided finance to more than 32 SMEs.

5. Kanchan Kumar

Kanchan Kumar is one of the founders of Remitr. Remitr is an end-to-end money transfer platform which was started with an aim to make global payments simple. In the year 2016, it was recognized as one of the most promising startups in the UAE region. 

6. Suvo Sarkar

Suvo Sarkar is the Senior Executive Vice President and Group Head in Retail banking & Wealth management at Emirates NBD. He contributes to the growth of revenue, profits and customer base for the bank by setting new standards for product innovation. He also publishes a column on the changing paradigms in the banking sector. He is considered as a Finovate speaker in the Middle East.

7. Abdulaziz Al Jouf

Abdulaziz Al Jouf is the founder of PayTabs. PayTabs is a payment gateway that provides businesses to transfer funds to each other without any complications. Realizing the difficulties faced by the SME merchants in the MENA region to get a payment gateway, Abdulaziz developed PayTabs. It provides payment solutions to all kinds of business be it small and medium enterprises, large scale organizations, etc.

8. Mirna Sleiman

Mirna Sleiman is the CEO and founder of Fintech Galaxy which is a digital crowdsourcing platform. It connects fintech entrepreneurs and investors. Mirna is the former award-winning financial journalist. She even guided several banks and governments on their digital transformation projects.

9. Sridhar Iyer

Sridhar Iyer is the Head of Mashreq Neo and Banking. Mashreq Neo is the digital banking application that is working with an aim to make banking easy and swift for the customers. This definitely makes a good addition to the growth of fintech in the UAE region.

10. Moussa Beidas

Moussa Beidas is the founder of Bridg, a smartphone app. It is an app which uses Bluetooth to make online payments. It is the first app that works on flight mode as well. Bridg is definitely one of the best fintech innovations. It makes the payment process simple. 

11. Sagar Sanap

Sagar Sanap is the AVP- Digital Sales Lead in Citi Bank. Being expertise in the field of Product strategy, Digital marketing, and campaign management, he is making a good share in the field of fintech.

12. Sam Quawasmi

Sam Quawasmi is one of the founders of the first equity crowdfunding platform Eureeca. It provides equity-based crowdfunding opportunity for the businesses. In the year 2013, Sam Quawasmi and Chris Thomas(Founder of Eureeca) were awarded “Innovator of the Year” award by Gulf Business Industry Awards in the UAE. 

13. Peter Smith

Peter Smith is the managing director, policy and strategy at Dubai Financial Services Authority(DFSA). DFSA regulates the financial services conducted from Dubai International Financial Center(DIFC) which works with a vision to drive the future of finance.

14. Philip King

Philip King is the Global Head of Retail Banking at ADIB. Prior to ADIB, he worked in several other well-known banks. ADIB launched MoneySmart which is the first digital community in the Middle East region. It also added “ADIB Express” to their app in order to provide instant digital services to their customers.

15. Richard Teng

Richard Teng is the CEO of the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA), Abu Dhabi Global Market(ADGM). The first Fintech Regulatory Laboratory Framework in the MENA region was developed in ADGM under the supervision of Richard. He works in the development of Fintech ecosystem in Abu Dhabi region. 

16. Wai Lum Kwok

Wai Lum Kwok is the Executive Director of Capital Markets, Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA), Abu Dhabi Global Market(ADGM). He is known for his efforts and supervision in the development of Fintech in ADGM.

17. Promoth Manghat

Promoth Manghat is the CEO of UAE Exchange. He leads the global operations team of UAE Exchange center. He supervises in expanding UAE Exchange all over the world besides the day-to-day operations of his team.

18. Jayesh Patel

Jayesh Patel is the head of Liv. account of Emirates NBD. Liv. account is the first digital banking account in the UAE region. This account was launched by taking millennials and digital lifestyle into consideration. Liv account is one of the best add-ons to Fintech growth in the UAE. 

19. Stelios Michaelides

Stelios Michaelides was the head of Digital Banking in Commercial Bank of Dubai(CBD). CBD Now is a digital banking product that was launched under the supervision of Stelios. It uses the latest technologies which promote in the safe and simplest way of banking for the customer.

20. Siddiq Farid

Siddiq Farid is the CEO and one of the founders of SmartCrowd. SmartCrowd is a real estate crowdfunding platform in the UAE. It is the only company that is regulated by the DFSA(Dubai Financial Services Authority) and the first company in UAE that supports digital real estate investments.

21. Tanvir Shah

Tanvir Shah is the Managing Director of The Partnerships Consulting. He supervises on banking, payments, fintech strategies, etc. in the MENA region. His works have been recognized by several popular publications like The Banker Middle East, Cards International, etc.

22. Lynnette Abad

Lynnette is the Director of Research and Data at PropertyFinder group. Having technology and real estate as her professional passions, she’s been working on PropTech for maximum time in her career. 

23. Mark Chahwan

Mark is one of the co-founders of Sarwa. Sarwa is an online financial advisor that helps customers in finding investment opportunities with good returns and low-risks. It was recognized as one of the top 20 fintech companies by Forbes and the first startup to have an innovation license by the Dubai International Financial Center.

24. Mike Cunningham

Mike has been spending most of his career in the FinTech sector. He works as an independent mentor at DIFC(Dubai International Financial Center) Fintech Hive. Besides that, he is the CEO of BankClearly a startup which invented a new way of banking.

25. Omar Soudodi

Omar Soudodi is the managing director at PayFort. PayFort is a payment gateway platform which provides a secured and safe payment facility for online shoppers. It has won several awards in the MENA region along with the Best Fintech Company in the year 2016 by The Entrepreneur. 

26. Usama Zafar

Usama Zafar is the Head of Digital & Direct Marketing in ADIB. He has 13+ years of work experience in well-acclaimed domestic and international companies. He is considered as a growth hacker with accomplishments of billion dollars in annual sales of the companies he worked.

27. Nameer Khan

Nameer Khan is not only a fintech influencer but also an insurtech. He is a founding board member of MENA Fintech Association which helps in shaping the future of financial services in the UAE.

28. Ola Doudin

Ola Doudin is the Cofounder and CEO of BitOasis which is digital asset exchange and wallet. It allows individuals to purchase, sell and trade digital assets. Along with the digital wallet and trading services, they also offer consulting services to the organizations.

29. Omar Rana

Omar Rana is the co-founder and director of strategy and finance in Finalytix. Finalytix provides financial advice and wealth management of a company. Omar is also a global fintech speaker who was invited to talk at various conferences.

30. Omeed Mehrinfar 

Plug and Play Tech is a platform that connects Startups and the world’s largest corporations. Omeed Mehrinfar is the regional director of such an innovative platform that helps the startups, investors, etc connect with each other. Plug and Play Tech work on the main objective to catalyze technological advancement.

31. Osama Al Rahma

Osama Al Rahma is the CEO of the Al Fardan Exchange. Al Fardan Exchange is a well-known exchange center in the UAE. Apart from the Al Fardan Exchange center, he is a board member of certain well-acclaimed companies like Foreign Exchange and Remittance group, 2 the point, who is responsible for the development of strategies. 

32. Tim Buckler

Tim Buckler is the Digital Sales Manager in Emirates Islamic Bank. With 9+ years of experience in the field of digital finance, his strategies mainly focus on developing overall e-commerce experiences. He helps in building the digital channel that eventually drives towards the customer and product gain.

33. Preeti Mundhra

Preeti Mundhra the Head of Marketing and Partnerships at the Liv. Digital Bank is one of the best fintech influencers in the UAE through Liv. account which is one of the best initiatives in the fintech space. 

34. Shaheen Alkhudhari

The founder and CEO of the well-known rent and property management platform, Ajar Online is Shaheen Alkhudhari. This platform helps homeowners manage their properties by offering a quick online rent collection facility. This makes the process of receiving or sending rent very easy.

35. Khalid Saad

Khalid Saad is the CEO of Bahrain Fintech Bay. Bahrain Fintech Bay is the first fintech hub in Bahrain and largest fintech hub in the MENA region. He is also the Executive Director of Fintech Consortium which helps in growth and acceleration of Fintech ecosystems.

36. Sonny Zulu

Sonny Zulu is the Managing Director and Head of Retail Banking at Standard Chartered Bank. He is known for delivering outstanding performance at work which helped in the growth of profits, revenue, etc.

37. Eric Modave

Eric Modave is the Chief Operating Office in Arab Bank who is in charge of all the IT operations, Enterprise Digital Innovation, data management, etc. for the bank. Prior to the Arab bank, he worked at top-noted banks in other regions.

38. Denit Varghese

Denit Varghese is the Senior Digital Planner at Carat. With long career experience in the field of digital marketing, his motto of looking at the long term success rather than short term returns makes him the best at the industry.

39. Bogdan Maranu

Bogdan Maranu is the Associate Media Director at Spark Foundry. It is a start-up that melds an innovative business approach with resources and capabilities. 

40. Omar Bin Brek 

Omar Bin Brek is the founder of the UAE Fintech Startup Foloosi. Foloosi facilitates consumer to business payments with advanced technical solutions. This is definitely a good add-on to fintech realm.

Source :
https://www.mymoneysouq.com/financial-blog/top-40-fintech-influencers-to-follow-in-the-middle-east/

Foloosi, a UAE Fintech startup facilitating consumer-to-business card payments

Foloosi is a UAE Fintech startup facilitating consumer-to-business card payments by enabling the business to display QR code, Payment Link and API integrations for the customer to scan & pay

What is Foloosi?

Press Release

Foloosi ( https://www.foloosi.com ) is a UAE Fintech startup facilitating consumer-to-business card payments by enabling the business to display QR code, Payment Link and API integrations for the customer to scan & pay.

Foloosi offers a complete technically advanced digital solution, which seamlessly connect consumers with businesses to provide actionable flow of events resulting in a fast and secure way of making payments based on QR codes and card networks.

Foloosi enables businesses in the UAE to get paid using QR code technology without the need of POS machine or any additional hardware. While the payment is deducted instantly, the merchant can also receive instant payment notifications.

Mission of Foloosi

World is going faster day by day with the power of digital information & technology. Our mission includes,

  • To make digitized payments/ transactions throughout UAE reforming the cash payments
  • To provide easy payments for customers to pay bills, recharge, book tickets, scan and pay etc and make them to enjoy their life
  • Enables business owners to accept payments without the need of any POS/ swipe machine or any other larger infrastructure

Products of Foloosi

QR code

Retailers can accept payment easily from customers just by generating one QR code. Customers can make payment using Scan & pay option. Customers can scan the item QR codes as they shop and can pay within minutes without queuing.

Payment link

Foloosi technology offers a marvelous solution to the likes of freelancers by enabling them to share payment web links with their clients through multiple means such as email, sms, whatsapp, social networking apps and sites.

Payment link is sending a payment request to get paid instantly.

Payment gateway

API documentation for websites is available as an option for merchants who want to accept payments on their own websites.

Businesses can accept payments in their mobile app/ website with Foloosi payment gateway API and customers can pay on merchant’s website.

Subscription

Enable recurring payment schedule, control the billing cycle and get instant alerts on subscription activity with Foloosi Subscriptions. All to do is to link a plan to the customer.

Foloosi help its merchants to offer customer subscription plans to their customers with automated recurring transactions on various payment modes, through a platform that’s built for automation.

Need of Press Release and target audience

In order to make use of Foloosi- digital payment solution by all the individuals and retailers of UAE we are launching this press release. Our target audience includes from small startups to larger organizations. All can make use of this digital payment solution and enjoy transaction in a quick and easy manner.

Benefits for customers

  • Enjoy recharges, bill payments at the tap of your fingers
  • Book tickets for events
  • Scan and pay to businesses
  • Secure and easy digital transactions with history
  • Reward points and Local shopping

Benefits for business owners

  • Accept every payment
  • Fast bank settlements
  • Secure payment
  • Good success rate
  • Business growth insights
  • Increased revenue
  • Business management

What Founder says about Foloosi?

Or

Founder says…

Mr. Omar Bin Brek, founder of Foloosi says, “Our aim is to bring innovative payment transactions throughout UAE. We developed Foloosi technology platform in order to make transactions simple, fast and secure and to reform older method of transaction i.e. cash payments and our technological innovation solves the teething problem of processing payments”

Source :
https://www.zawya.com/mena/en/press-releases/story/What_is_Foloosi-ZAWYA20190427052837/

https://magnitt.com/news/heres-everything-you-need-know-about-foloosi-uae-fintech-startup-facilitating-consumer-business-card

© Press Release 2019

Fintech to have greater impact on retail banking in GCC

Dubai: The financial technology (fintech) revolution that is sweeping across the banking and financial services industry across the world is likely to disrupt the retail banking business in the GCC while the overall impact on balance sheets and bank ratings is going to be minimal in the near future, according to rating agency Standard & Poor’s (S&P).

“Technological innovation in the financial sector is a global trend, reaching developed and developing economies alike. We believe that fintech could reduce the profitability of some business lines of GCC banks and change the way they operate over time.

“While we don’t expect major disruption of lending activity in the GCC,” said S&P Global Ratings credit analyst Mohammad Damak.

S&P analysts believe that fintech could impact retail banking, particularly money transfer and foreign-currency exchange business. This would push some banks to adjust their operations through increased digitalisation, branch network reduction, and staff rationalisation. Conventional banking’s value chain essentially involves functions such as taking savings, providing loans and facilitating payments. In this value chain, at the most risk of disruption is the payments business model because it is the least capital intensive and most tech intensive.

While savings and lending involve the balance sheet and regulation, in the case of payments, business is balance sheet-light and regulations are relatively lower, attracting most innovators to this segment.

In lending and savings, the impact of disruption has been slower compared to payments. S&P analysts don’t expect fintech alone to have a significant bearing on our GCC bank ratings in the foreseeable future. On average, banks in the GCC are still very profitable and efficient by global standards.

“We think that some banks are starting to realise the extent of the threats and opportunities that fintech poses, and are putting in place measures to adjust to the new realities of their operating environment,” said Damak.

Corporate lending

As corporate lending constitutes a major portion of the loan books of GCC banks, analysts believe the impact of fintech on overall profitability of banks are going to be muted.

Corporate lending remains relationship-based and the human added-value remains significant in the GCC, from corporate relationship managers all the way up to decision makers.

“While we acknowledge that fintech might help enhance the efficiency of some of these operations, we don’t think they will be significantly disrupted in the next few years,” said Damak.

Analysts expect fintech to affect GCC banks’ profitability, but not across all business lines. In 2016, the GCC banks generated around one-quarter of their revenues from fees and commission and foreign-exchange gains. The latter contributed around 6 per cent of rated GCC banks’ operating revenues over the same period. While a significant portion of these revenues relates to lending and advisory activity, part of it also relates to money transfer and currency exchange.

GCC countries remain net exporters of capital. Their small populations and significant investments and economic development have brought about a significant need to import qualified and unqualified workforces. As a result, the populations of most GCC countries are dominated by expatriates. According to the World Bank, these expatriates sent $102.5 billion (Dh376 billion) back to their home countries in 2016. Fintech could also disrupt the payment industry as it would reduce costs for end users because of the reduction in the number of participants. GCC banks only started to realise the potential risks and opportunities from the development of fintech recently.

According to EY’s GCC Fintech Play 2017 report, only 42 per cent of GCC banks that participated in EY’s survey were familiar (fairly familiar or more) with the fintech industry, while 93 per cent of GCC banks doubted that fintech players could disrupt their businesses in the short term.

In the same survey, 86 per cent of GCC banks estimated that no more than 15 per cent of banks’ business could be lost to fintech in the next five years, believing fund transfer and brokerage to be the main business lines most likely to be disrupted.

“In our view, the sooner GCC banks understand fintech’s potential threats, the better they will be able to implement defensive measures or develop collaborative strategies with new fintech players.

“Collaboration could take the form of partnering with some fintech companies for specific services, for example, allowing fintech companies to use the banking system infrastructure for clearing and settlement operations,” Damak said.

Defensive measures would primarily take the form of strengthening mobile banking services, rationalising branch networks, and refocusing staff on value-added services rather than repetitive and less-profitable operations.

Role of regulators

The role of regulators and authorities lies between protecting banks and seizing opportunities.

Clearly, regulators in the GCC are looking closely at fintech, not only from a perspective of financial stability, but also from one of collaboration.

Fintech Hive in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), and the regulatory “sandboxes” set up by the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA), with similar initiatives in Abu Dhabi and Bahrain, are examples of how regulators are approaching the fintech industry.

While Fintech Hive helps fintech companies benefit from collaborations with top executives at the DIFC over a 12-week accelerator programme, the regulatory sandboxes allow fintech companies to test their innovations in the real market in a restricted regulatory environment.

In Dubai, the DFSA launched its regulatory framework for loan- and investment-based crowdfunding platforms earlier this year, and it has licensed one company for peer-to-peer lending and another for equity-based crowdfunding.

What is Fintech?

Fintech is a collection of financial technology that describes an emerging financial services sector in the 21st century.

Originally, the term applied to technology applied to the back-end of established consumer and trade financial institutions. The term has since expanded to include any technological innovation in the financial sector, including innovations in financial literacy and education, retail banking, investment and even crypto-currencies like bitcoin.

Source : https://gulfnews.com/business/banking/fintech-to-have-greater-impact-on-retail-banking-in-gcc-1.2110407

Fintech firms to benefit from DIFC $100m fund

Fintech Fund (DIFC)

Dubai:  Dubai International Financial Centre’s (DIFC) new $100 million (Dh367 million) FinTech fund, which will come from internal resources, will support Fintech Hive start-ups in Artificial Intelligence, blockchain, robotics, DIFC governor Essa Kazim said on Tuesday.

He was speaking at the Global Financial Forum, which was opened by Shaikh Maktoum Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and the president of DIFC.

DIFC thinks that fintech is “underserviced” and the allocation of funding going into this new business is “very very limited” in the MEASA region, accounting to less than 1 per cent of the total.

DIFC Fintech Fund

“We are ready to spend the money. But it will depend on opportunities and if it makes commercial sense,” Kazim told reporters. “We want to consolidate the position of the DIFC and to be at the forefront of the changes that may happen in the financial sector.”

The fund can grow bigger, Kazim said.

“We have been talking with some government departments at federal level, or local level. If the interest materialises into anything then definitely the structure of the fund will be different,” he said.

“We don’t mind having other entities mainly government or semi government entities to participate in this fund. Today the fund is sufficient to support our own initiatives whether it is development of Fintech hive, the type of companies that are going to be supported by accelerator,” Kazim added.

Importance of Fintech

The 2024 strategy, which was a 10-year plan of the DIFC to triple its size, was launched 3 years ago, but Kazim didn’t envisage that Fintech would have been a part of the strategy, when the announcement was made.

“There is a new order that global financial services industry needs to navigate … the new alliances are being forged. The rapid emergence of advanced technology in all areas of finance is creating shifts like never before in the industry,” Kazim said.

Updating on the achievements made so far in the 10 year strategy rolled out in 2015, Kazim said “We are on track (in terms of meeting targets for the 10 year strategy). In certain areas we have passed our targets, but other areas we are lagging behind in area of employment. Although the number of licenses are on track attracting companies, but there is a little lag (not significant) in terms of employment,” said Kazim.

Falling oil prices has not been a negative for the center to attract businesses. Before the drop in oil price, the DIFC licensed 150 companies a year on an average, after that the average jumped to 300 companies.

“That (funding) element has encouraged banks to really expand their balance-sheet and provide credit to regional governments. Governments have been active in issuing bonds and sukuk and that also encouraged financial activities in the DIFC,” Kazim said.

DIFC also hopes to attract more asset managers, financial institutions from India and China.

Regarding competition from other financial centers, Kazim said “competition is always there. The UAE was built on competition and on market forces. We have 5 airports, and 7 ports, and financial activity is one of those things. We don’t fear competition, and it is always good.”

Source :
https://gulfnews.com/business/markets/fintech-firms-to-benefit-from-difc-100m-fund-1.2124444