Fintech’s bright prospects highlighted at inaugural Doha forum

The first Arab Fintech Forum (AFF) was held here Sunday with the fintech players calling for evolvement of more global fintech hubs, embedded finance, streamlined trade documentation for cross-border movement of goods and crypto assets.
Otto Williams, senior vice president (head of products and solutions), Central and East Europe, Middle East and Asia, VISA, said over the past one and a half years, it has seen how pandemic has changed the economies for digital transformation, as lockdowns have found more customers and business make use of the digital platforms.
Highlighting that the pandemic has changed consumer preferences, he said digital payments such as tap-to-pay or contactless now account for more than two-third of transactions globally.

Gulf Times Editor-in-chief Faisal Abdulhameed al-Mudahka receiving memento from Malik Shistawi, Arab Fintech Forum president. Gulf Times was the official newspaper for the event, which saw experts from across the world deliberate key challenges and opportunities in one of the most important and fastest growing sectors worldwide.

“As economies continue to recover, Visa is committed to tackling the access to digital economy to bridge the gap between those who have the access and those who do not,” he said.
Quoting the World Bank’s ‘The Global Covid-19 Fintech Market Rapid Assessment Study 2020’, Fadi Saab, chairman and chief executive Trans Capital Finance said despite the pandemic, fintechs continue to grow globally.
On average, they reported a year-on-year increase in their transaction numbers and volumes of 13% and 11% respectively in Q1-Q2, he said, citing the report.

Highlighting that it surveyed as many as 13 fintech verticals, he said the report found that the impact of Covid-19 on market performance is not uniform at the verticals or geographic jurisdictions. Except for digital lending, all verticals reported an increase in transaction volume, even as growth varied significantly, he added.
According to KPMG Pulse of Fintech 2020, the global fintech investments in 2020 recorded $105.3bn across 2,861 deals.
Highlighting the importance of digital documentation, Michel Kilzi, executive chairman, Fineon Exchange, said the transformation started before Covid-19 struck but the pandemic hastened it, especially after physical verification became difficult in view of lockdowns.
However, the digital transformation had encountered many blocks since there was no digital data standards as a framework. Hence the first initiative came from the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), which launched the Digital Trade Standards Initiative (DSI) – a collaborative cross-industry effort to enable the standardisation of digital trade.
He said this will facilitate technical interoperability among the banks, platforms, shipping and logistics and insurance to promote greater economic inclusion.

“The whole digital interconnected world that is shaping up needs certain legal framework,” he said.
In this context, he highlighted the commitment made by the G7 digital and technology ministers to adopt electronic transferable records. “This is a major accelerator,” he added.
The intergovernmental organisation — comprising Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US — had agreed on a framework towards digitising global trade.
The other problematic area that is currently being tackled relates to the financial instruments such as bills of exchange and promissory note, he said.
The International Trade and Forfaiting Association, ITFA — the worldwide trade association for companies, financial institutions and intermediaries engaged in global trade, forfaiting, supply chain and receivables financing — is at present lobbying with the European Union to try to change the regulations regarding this.

Last updated: October 10 2021 11:00 PM