The wave of startups , new technology and disruptive models has shaken the best in the business and made its importance felt, as consumers today have fast adapted to them. Going back to the basics – the majority we are catering to today are millennial’s, who are managing their lifestyle and their life’s with a 5 inch screen in their hands. This dominant audience is used to compare not just prices and features; they bring liquid expectations of comparing experiences and the true value they are receiving in any product or service they are engaging with regardless of the industry or category. For them what matters is incremental value with relevance and convenience. Comparing an UBER experience with Careem? Possible! Comparing UBER and Careem’s experience with a bank? Absolutely!
Thus, the well established players from various industries need to re-evaluate their digital strategies, product offerings, customer experiences and their business models to stay relevant before being made irrelevant.
In such an emerging and rapidly expanding landscape of technology, Finance which started a tad slower has managed to take the front row considering it is what that keeps from an individual to a corporate running. Therefore, the need for relevant financial products is pivotal.
The industry has strongly communicated that now it is ripe for value intensive, convenience laden and efficient use of financial technology, which gave us FINTECH. Today Fintech, is one of the most talked about, highly sought after industry with multiple verticals of specialization with an ever expanding landscape complimented with an influx of huge global talent and investors – the financial industry needs more than just joining the digital bandwagon and a digital fix to prosper. Having studied and worked with various established and emerging Fintech hubs, there are some core pointers that are critical for a FinTech eco system to prosper. Some of those have been taken by UAE, which makes it the go-to place for FinTech startups:
1- Government Support to drive innovation
Taking UAE’s future vision as an example Is inspiring for major economy’s world over. With the smart country initiative where Abu Dhabi and Dubai are taking the lead in the region – development of new technology, new models and new capabilities is at the forefront. There are already various innovative initiatives that are being executed and ADGM’s FinTech Regulatory Laboratory being one of them. Today we see more and more entrepreneurial competitions that are taking place and both the startups and investors are enjoying the energy here. Thus, the govt. support plays a pivotal role in economic development. This is an impact of a top down support.
2- Execution all the way
For any Fintech having a conducive environment for growth is pivotal for making it executable. Any startup before kick-starting an idea will gauge how disruptive the idea is and what market potential it possesses. As the financial sector is highly regulated, new ideas or technology will face challenges anywhere due to the regulatory compliances. This is where “Sandbox” steps in and gives startups and investors the comfort and confidence to test their ideas for a specific time period with some limitations in a safe environment. Abu Dhabi Global Markets, which established FinTech Regulatory Laboratory is a fantastic example of commitment and dedication towards building a FinTech eco-system that the global startups can benefit from.
3- Gateway to the Neighboring countries
The MENA region has more than 85 million adults that remain unbanked, which itself is another opportunity for FinTech startups catering the segment. Therefore, a regional financial hub which is also a global financial hub, connects the world with those unbanked economies. The strategic location of a FinTech hub plays a significant role in accessibility to those markets. So if we were to take a flight from Abu Dhabi to major cities of the region, we are looking at 1-3 hours of flight time – ideal. So towards building a FinTech eco-system that the global startups can benefit from.
4- Surging telecom sector
Telco’s throughout via their extensive reach to the masses and being closer to the customer’s lifestyle and wallets have a significant role in enabling core areas for FinTech. The tremendous amount of data they possess if utilized efficiently in todays open API economy will definitely create WOW experiences in the financial industry. Telco’s at present need the right partners, the right ideas in this highly lucrative FinTech industry.
How does UAE, compliment that? The telecom sector in UAE registered a growth of 12.32% to DH 32.8 billion in 2015. With over 16.8 million by the end of the year with a penetration rate of 199.3 per cent makes it an economy with one of the highest penetrations world over. Plus one of UAE’s telco operators has operations in 17 countries, therefore proving the importance of telco players in developing a FinTech eco-system that matters.
5- Bringing Talent Exceptional Talent Together
To build up any startup hub, you need the right talent. In a world where talent today is more demanding than ever. UAE has taken strides in nurturing and valuing the right minds, from building up the relevant infrastructure, Happiness Index, Regulations along with access to a large pool of investors. The lifestyle that UAE offers to the startups is matchless, hence it is today home to 7.8 million expatriates from world over.
6- Global Gateway
With pivotal alliances made with various fintech hub, UAE truly offers a career path for startups by creating various bridges. From ideation to sandbox testing to fully operational models which then have the opportunity to scale into new markets without and other global fintech hubs without any friction.
Any startup or emerging companies looking forward towards having their presence in the region should strategically partner with key players to have their presence felt.
(The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of the GCCStartup.News or TMA Worldwide & images have republished with the author’s permission)