FinTechs and banks unite for innovation at DIFC’s Dubai FinTech Summit Dialogues
Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 11 April 2023: Dubai International Financial Centre
(DIFC), the leading international financial hub in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia
(MEASA) region hosted the second Dubai FinTech Summit (DFS) Dialogues this week,
powered by the Innovation Hub. Heads of 10 leading regional banks and FinTechs were
invited to unpack the challenges facing the financial sector and deliberate on how the
industry can de-risk and build resilient, sustainable financial institutions.
According to recent research by Report Ocean, the global FinTech Lending Market was
valued at approximately USD573.05 bn in 2021 and is anticipated to grow with a healthy
growth rate of more than 27.4% over the forecast period 2022-2029.
Hosting the roundtable, Mohammad AlBlooshi, Head of DIFC Innovation Hub and
FinTech Hive, said, “As an industry predicated on confidence and trust, we are currently
seeing the banking sector experience a time of disruption. Given global headwinds, we
have an opportunity to build more resilient institutions through collaboration between
banks and FinTechs.”
Commenting on the session he added, “Through conveners such as this roundtable and
the first-ever Dubai FinTech Summit in May, we are facilitating dialogue and avenues of
collaboration for long-standing financial institutions, regulators, and promising
entrepreneurs to together map out how the sector can - and should - move forward.”
The age of Banks vs. FinTechs is behind us
The FinTech sector, widely recognised as a major competitor to banks, is expected to
double in size from USD135.9 bn in 2021 to USD266.9 bn in 2027, according to DIFC
FinTech Hive's 2022 FinTech Report. Additionally, with approximately 50 per cent of the
MENA region currently unbanked or underbanked, FinTechs have been playing a crucial
role in promoting inclusive economic growth in the region.
However, a unanimous takeaway from all banks at the DFS Dialogue captured how both
entities are in fact symbiotic.
Sanjay Sethi, Senior Managing Director, Head of Global Transaction Banking at
First Abu Dhabi Bank, said, “This is an age of collaboration and co-creation where
leading financial institutions and pioneering FinTechs can embark on a journey of
innovative discovery together. This is especially true when we look at opportunities to
expand into new geographies, improve product capabilities, grow revenues, or scale or
optimise our business faster and more efficiently. Alongside this, FinTech solutions in transaction banking are growing in agility every day. As we look to the future, FAB will
continue collaborating with pioneering FinTechs to deliver impactful advances across the
Earlier this year, the UAE Central Bank announced the implementation of its Digital
Dirham digital currency strategy, which promises to be a critical step in the country’s
payments industry, something that will deeply impact banks, FinTechs, businesses, and
customers. “As such, the synergy between banks and FinTechs proves to be unavoidable
as the industry inches towards a cashless economy,” added AlBlooshi.
Technology: Disrupting and enhancing trust
“As a FinTech services provider, the core, as with any tech player is to build an emotional
connection with the end consumer,” said Raman Thiagarajan, CEO and Founder,
As customers turn to technology, banks have been forced to adapt traditional trust-
building to complement the digitisation of banking. Anand Krishnan, Head of
Technology, Emirates Investment Bank, said, “It is increasingly important banks
continue to invest more in technology that not only builds but maintains trust in customers
across their entire journey.”
Google predicts that the financial services and banking industry will emerge as the primary
spender for AI technology in the MENA. The industry will make up nearly 25 per cent of all
AI investments in the region, with banking tech alone expected to contribute 13.6 per cent
to the region’s gross domestic product by 2030.
Mehdi Tazi, Chief Operating Officer, Lean Technologies, stated, “I believe customers
still trust banks more than FinTechs – they are larger more established institutions.
However, something FinTechs do very well is streamlining processes when helping
onboard customers into these larger banks. As a result, we are seeing a marriage
between FinTech and banking that enhances the customer’s journey, ultimately building
The onset of Web 3.0 ushers in a transformative moment for financial services, capital
markets and banking, shifting customer expectations and revolutionising the sector. The
total transaction value of embedded finance is said to reach USD7 tn in 2026, as per
Rakesh Reddy, CEO, Cloud4u, “This is particularly useful for Platform as a Service
(PaaS) providers who will strongly benefit from this growth, undeniably becoming a key
Nilay Singh, Chief Executive Officer, State Bank of India, DIFC, pointed out, “We
cannot ignore AI. It has to be adopted but cleverly and effectively, and this is where we
need to understand what to outsource and when to collaborate.”
Dubai is gearing up for continued growth and innovation, so how can policymakers,entrepreneurs and investors come together to further advance during these volatile times?
With a unified goal to enhance inclusive, stable banking solutions for the region, traditional
financial establishments are increasingly optimistic in growing their partnerships with
promising FinTechs to help bridge gaps and strategically stay ahead of the curve. Join the
dialogue at the Dubai FinTech Summit at Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai. Visitors can now
purchase tickets with early bird prices available until 15 April 2023.
About Dubai International Financial Centre
Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) is one of the world’s most advanced financial centres, and the leading financial hub
for the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA), which comprises 72 countries with an approximate population of 3 billion
and an estimated GDP of USD 8 trillion.
With a close to 20-year track record of facilitating trade and investment flows across the MEASA region, the Centre connects
these fast-growing markets with the economies of Asia, Europe and the Americas through Dubai.
DIFC is home to an internationally recognised, independent regulator and a proven judicial system with an English common law
framework, as well as the region’s largest financial ecosystem of over 36,000 professionals working across over 4,300 active
registered companies – making up the largest and most diverse pool of industry talent in the region.
The Centre’s vision is to drive the future of finance through cutting-edge technology, innovation, and partnerships. Today, it is the
global future of finance and innovation hub offering one of the region’s most comprehensive FinTech and venture capital
environments, including cost-effective licensing solutions, fit-for-purpose regulation, innovative accelerator programmes, and
funding for growth-stage start-ups.
Comprising a variety of world-renowned retail and dining venues, a dynamic art and culture scene, residential
apartments, hotels and public spaces, DIFC continues to be one of Dubai’s most sought-after business and lifestyle destinations.
For further information, please visit our website: difc.ae, or follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter @DIFC.