The region’s key bankers and technology leaders attended the annual MEA Finance Banking Technology Summit and Awards held on May 11, 2023, at the Armani Hotel, Burj Khalifa in Dubai. The one-day summit, the regions premier focused day of discussion on the role and wider impacts of technology in banking and finance, continued this year under the theme “Continuing Innovation in Banking and Finance” highlighted the latest developments in digitisation, newest opportunities and emerging trends in the region’s financial markets.

Fifty industry leaders took part as speakers to over 700 delegates at this high-level gathering, opened by Jamal Saleh, Director General, UAE Banks Federation, who delivered the opening keynote address.

The Summit started with a panel discussion on OPEN BANKING & APIs: Can technology continue to provide positive impacts for banking and finance? with speakers Ali Imran, COO, Commercial Bank of Dubai; Samer Soliman, CEO, Arab Financial Services, Srinivasan Sampath, Group CTO, First Abu Dhabi Bank, Gabrielle Inzirillo, Head of Ecosystem Development, ADGM, Pinaaz Kulkarni, Managing Director- Digital Channels & Data Analytics, Standard Chartered Bank, Mohamed Wassim Khayata, CEO, Al Maryah Community Bank, Saud Al Dhawyani, CTO, Emirates NBD, moderated by Rajesh Nagpal, Director, Financial Services, GBM. The panel discussed the current effect of Open banking and APIs across the regional banking scene.

Following was a presentation by Mostafa Zaher, Vice President, IBM Data, AI and Automation, Middle East and Africa, titled – Let’s talk about the Future of Banking, in which he presented the efficiency and accuracy of different key processes by introducing AI into the everyday workflow.

The next panel, ENGAGEMENT BANKING: How will technology build more productive and enduring bonds between banks and customers included Finali Fernando, Managing Director, Regional Head of Products, CCO, HSBC, Anand Krishnan, Head of Technology, Emirates Investment Bank, George Hojeige, CEO, Virtugroup, Mohammed Hussein, Regional Director, Finshape, Glen Fernandes, Managing Director, Global Client Management, BNY Mellon, Jamal Al Awadhi, Chief Operations and Customer Experience Officer, Wio Bank with Anna Zeitlin, Fintech Director, PwC, as moderator. The discussion focused on how relationships between banks and their customers at all levels are rapidly changing. For banks to get the best out of their client bases, understanding individual needs will be the key to the performance and profitability of banks at a time where legacy revenue streams, such as payments are dwindling.

The following panel – COMPETITORS, VENDORS & PARTNERS: The line continues to blur featured Maria Parpou, EVP Payment Gateway Services, Mastercard Payment Gateway Services; Jagadeshwaran K, Managing Director ,Treasury & Trade Solutions, MENA, Citi, Sandeep Chouhan, Group Chief Business Transformation and Technology Officer, Network International, Cem Soydemir, Head of Payments GTM, MEA & India Sub-continent, Swift, Srinivasan Sampath, Group CTO, First Abu Dhabi Bank, and Mohamed Wassim Khayata, CEO, Al Maryah Community Bank – discussing how the once clear definitions between competitors, vendors and partners across the banking and finance landscape continue to dissolve, evolving new business models, new dynamics and relationships. This discussion was moderated by Oscar Wendel, Senior Manager, DWTC Fintech Surge.

THE FUTURE FOR CLOUD IN PAYMENTS AND DATA followed, focusing on the opportunities cloud can bring for the realisation of useful insights from data, plus the speed and agility it brings to payments. Speakers Ellis Wang, Board of The Executive & Advisory Team, Sheikh Maktoum Private Office, Peter Hainz, Global Head of Strategic Initiative, Cloud and AI, Smartstream, Mohamed Roushdy, Founder & Fintech Advisor, Fintech Bazaar, Adam Woolford, CTO, Zand with moderator Nitin Bhandari, SVP & Head of Payit Wallet, FAB led the audience through this important debate.

After lunch, speakers Viplav Rathore, Managing Director – Head of Cash Management Products for Africa & MENAP, Standard Chartered Bank, Vibhor Mundhada, CEO, Neopay, Mashreq; Mohit Aery, Regional Director, Payment Gateway Services – EEMEA, Mastercard, Alaa Alrousan, Senior Account Director, Swift, Gautam Dutta, Global Head of Cash Product Management, First Abu Dhabi Bank, Mahmoud Abuebeid, CEO, Global Software Solutions (GSS) Group, Naresh Killa, Head of Corporate Banking and Payments Products, TCS Financial Solutions with moderator Oscar Wendel, Senior Manager, DWTC Fintech Surge discussed MAKING THE BEST OF THE CHANGING PAYMENTS LANDSCAPE IN THE MIDDLE EAST & AFRICA, highlighting how technology has been key to the availability of the current wide range of payment processes available.

Next panel is HOW CAN TECHNOLOGY HELP GIVE BANKS AN EDGE IN RETAIL BANKING with speakers Irfan Bhatti, Head of Enterprise Transformation & Delivery, Banque Saudi Fransi, Todd Schweitzer, CEO & Co-founder, Brankas, Noman Rasheed, CIO, DIB, Zul Javaid, CEO, UAE Trade Connect, Devid Jegerson, COO, Invest Bank, Abhijeet Singh Hazare, Director – Banking & Capital Markets, Azentio, and moderator Oscar Wendel, Senior Manager, DWTC Fintech Surge, focused on how technology can continue to improve competitiveness, yield better results to retail banks and provide similar advantages to the broader financial landscape.

The final panel debate was titled – WHAT IS COMING & HOW WILL BANKING TECHNOLOGY LOOK AT THE END OF THE DECADE, and speculated on how the application and routine use of banking technology will take shape in the approach to the next decade and in-turn, what the regional and international financial sector will look like, and how it will operate for both retail customers and corporate clients. With speakers including Sanat Rao, CEO, Infosys Finacle, Giulia Finkbeiner-Bertoni, Senior Executive Officer, Sygnum Bank, Krishna Kumar Nair, Chief Operating Officer, Emirates Development Bank, Shiba Nair, Senior Manager – Platform Development, National Bank of Fujairah, Thomas Cherian, CIO, Commercial Bank of Dubai, Amith Rajan, EVP, Head of Wholesale Digital and Advanced Analytics, Mashreq, moderated by Arjun Singh, Partner, Global Financial Services Practice, Arthur D. Little.

MEA Finance Banking Technology Summit 2023 was sponsored by Dubai Islamic Bank as Official Banking Partner; Infosys Finacle, Network International, and Swift as Gold Sponsors; Arab Financial Services, Azentio, Backbase, Brankas, Finshape, Global Software Solutions Group, Mastercard Payment Gateway Services, Smartstream, TCS Bancs, and UAE Trade Connect as Silver Sponsors; GBM as Strategic Technology Partner; UAE Banks Federation as Association Partner; Manchester University as Knowledge Partner; Loxon as Badge Sponsor; Finesse Global, Fintech Surge, Finsol, National Bank of Fujairah, and Netcetera as Supporting Partners.