By Arif Amiri/ Entrepreneur ME - Image Credit: graphicstock
We often find that what doesn’t truly challenge us, does not change us. Today, fintech is challenging old financial models, and is transforming the financial service sector– arguably, for the better.
The power of financial technology to deliver financial services to more people, in more places, more efficiently, is one of the reasons why we at Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) have been working diligently to enable fintech startups to grow from nascent ideas to groundbreaking successes.
At the recent inaugural Global Financial Forum (GFF), organized by DIFC and held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and President of the DIFC, we launched a US$100 million fintech-focused fund, that will help support fintech firms from incubation to growth stage. We were delighted to hear that many of the GFF panelists from different verticals of the financial services sphere, shared this optimism in fintech’s power to be transformative and are, in fact, investing in fintech themselves.
Though the term fintech has been a buzz word for a few years, financial technology has been around for decades. A few countries across the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region have been using basic financial technology to solve various socio-economic ailments for several years, and they have proven to be incredibly successful. For instance, 10 years ago in Kenya, M-Pesa, a mobile-banking platform, was launched and since then it has allowed 17 million people, most of whom have never stepped foot in a bank, to send money via mobile phones, according to the Central Bank of Kenya. In India, the government’s drive to create a cashless economy, has shown some very inspiring results- Soumya Kanti Ghosh, Chief Economist of State Bank of India, said in his panel discussion at GFF that there have been positive behavioural changes amongst the lower income group as more money is moved into formal bank accounts, with greater spending on healthcare and less on intoxicants.