Visa-backed Bankable opens Middle East hub in DIFC

SOURCE: The National

The global digital banking and payments platform will serve financial institutions, corporates and FinTechs

Bankable, a global digital banking and payments platform backed by Visa, is opening a Middle East hub at the Dubai International Financial Centre.

The Dubai office will serve more than 50 markets in the Middle East and Africa. It is Bankable’s third location, following London and Brussels, since the company was founded in 2010.

The expansion follows a partnership with leading global payments technology company Visa in April, which also made an undisclosed financial investment in Bankable.

“Our decision to invest in Dubai is a natural extension for us. Bankable has served prestigious global clients headquartered in Dubai for the last three years,” said the company's chief executive and founder Eric Mouilleron in a statement. “Not only is Dubai home to global head offices and Visa’s CEMEA [Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa] base, but some of our existing clients in Europe and North America are now looking to expand in the region.”

Bankable provides digital payment solutions, such as e-wallets, remittance services, peer-to-peer money transfers, prepaid card programmes and software that allows organisations to streamline their payment processes. Its client base includes financial institutions, such as banks, electronic money issuers and insurance companies, as well as FinTechs and global corporates.

“Our strategic partnership with Bankable represents a great opportunity to further accelerate digital payments innovation in the region, and we look forward to bringing this partnership to our FinTechs and bank clients to deliver innovative consumer experiences,” said Otto Williams, Visa’s head of strategic partnerships for FinTech & Ventures CEMEA.

At the DIFC, Bankable hopes to “operate a FinTech magnet supported by preapproved regional bank sponsors”, Mr Mouilleron said.

“We are delighted to welcome Bankable to the DIFC,” said Salman Jaffery, chief business development officer at the DIFC Authority. “Bringing efficiency to the payments industry is a critical piece of DIFC’s FinTech strategy, which provides firms a critical platform for innovation amid the world’s largest remittance corridors.”

The UAE is drawing more FinTech investment from both regional and global players, particularly in the payments space. The Emirates is one of the top remittance countries in the world with a total of Dh169.2 billion sent last year, according to Central Bank figures. Global FinTechs, such as TransferWise, are also capitalising on the opportunity.

The FinTech sector in the region is growing at a compounded annual growth rate of 30 per cent, according to a September report from the Milken Institute Centre for Financial Markets. In the first nine months of this year, 51 FinTech deals have been agreed, exceeding the 48 over the whole of last year, according to MAGNiTT's MENA FinTech Venture 2019 report.

Meanwhile, banks and exchange houses are undergoing digital transformation to keep up with the competition and address customer needs.