MENA Fintech Association (MFTA), a non-profit organization founded to shape the future of technological innovations, products, and business models in the financial services sector within the MENA region, officially launched on Sunday, 23 June 2019, at Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM).
Industry stakeholders that attended the event included 22 financial regulators from MENA countries, Fintech leaders, government representatives, international and regional companies, and members of the MFTA fraternity. At the exclusive event, various guests and speakers acknowledged and cherished the strides the organization has made toward pushing the frontiers of Fintech innovation and financial inclusion in the region since its inception at a Fintech Abu Dhabi event in 2018.
During the MFTA launch event, leaders and stakeholders also unveiled several initiatives aimed at shaping enhanced financial services in MENA, going forward.
MFTA’s recent achievements include setting up 46 country bridges globally to facilitate cross-border collaborations and the exchange of ideas among Fintech professionals and consumers. The organization created and provided a platform for global experts to address the local Fintech community, and it mobilized the MFTA community to participate in social life-transforming activities.
More than 1000 individuals have benefited from the life-changing technical and social events that MFTA has organized in the past. By collaborating with the Arab Monetary Fund, the organization managed to create a Fintech framework within a short duration.
MFTA has been liaising with corporate organizations through its global talent exchange program, which has enabled it to prepare and launch “Regulation Simplified,” the community’s first publication.
MENA Fintech Association struck a couple of deals at the launch ceremony, including with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). This partnership aims at developing strategic initiatives on financial inclusion and advancement of financial services within the region.
Also, MFTA signed an alliance with the American University of Dubai. The two organizations agreed to collaborate on specific academic initiatives and programs to create the ecosystem that Fintech startups and industry stakeholders need to flourish. Identified areas of collaboration include curriculum and capacity building and accelerator programs.
In yet another exciting deal, MFTA and Anghami have agreed to work together on an upcoming podcast series focusing on the topic of Fintech in MENA. Anghami is the most popular legal music streaming platform in the region, with over 50 million subscribers.
Commenting on the launch, founding board member and chairman of MFTA, Nameer Khan, said the team was happy to unveil the organization—a first-of-its-kind in MENA. He added that MFTA will bring together the entire Fintech fraternity in the region, including various associations, and that the nonprofit will advance the interests of all stakeholders, foster collaboration, facilitate the development of industry standards, and promote an environment that’s conducive for extensive Fintech deliberations.
The chairman acknowledged the critical role that the MFTA board membership played in organizing a successful launch. The founding board members are Umair Hameed, partner at KPMG, Nihal Abughattas of TEMENOS, Irina Heaver from Bolton Holdings, Kokila Alagh of KARM, and Altaf Ahmed (Etisalat).
At the launch, MFTA hosted a panel discussion titled ‘Shaping the Future of Fintech.’ Industry leaders with Fintech expertise participated in the forum, including Michael O’ Loughlin (TOKEN, Inc), Kaiser Naseem (MFTA advisor), and Wai Lum Kwok (FSRA at ADGM). The panelists focused on the need to build a Fintech ecosystem throughout MENA. They pinpointed deficiencies and agreed on practical measures that have to be implemented to establish an ideal environment. Their objective is to bring regulators within industry stakeholders’ reach, increase the accessibility of startup funding, and bridge the Fintech skills gap in MENA through specific academic programs.
Education is one of the tools MFTA plans on using to define the future of financial services in the region, according to the organization’s website. To achieve that goal, MFTA will be providing a virtual and physical knowledge-sharing platform that existing industry experts and ecosystem stakeholders may leverage to promote robust Fintech growth within MENA.
Another area of focus at the event was significant upcoming developments in MENA’s Fintech industry. Navin Gupta from Ripple and Richard Teng from the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of ADGM delivered the relevant highlights.
Mr. Teng emphasized the importance of the Fintech community working together and speaking with one voice to achieve intended goals.
“As the Fintech ecosystem in the region grows, the community needs to collaborate more closely for a common effective voice to interact with the likes of regulators, policymakers and institutions. I would like to congratulate the MENA Fintech Association on its official launch and applaud Nameer and the founding team for stepping up to lead this important effort.”—Mr. Teng
The MFTA also invited attendees to tour the HUB 71 at the exclusive launch event. The center is reportedly MENA’s top innovation and technology hub.
After launching MFTA, the organization intends on reaching out to different groups and stakeholders to have meaningful discussions that will promote the Fintech industry in the region. They’ll be talking to and collaborating with innovators, startups, and entrepreneurs. Technology vendors will play a vital role in Fintech development too.
Besides working with Fintech professionals, scholars, and academic institutions, MFTA will be engaging corporate organizations, banks and lenders, investors, and accelerators. Over the next few months or years, the association will be collaborating with relevant government authorities and policymakers on the creation of a supportive regulatory framework for Fintech development and utilization across MENA.
MFTA hopes to extract in-depth insights and views on Fintech from the disparate groups and parties it will bring together under one roof. Bringing everybody on board will make it much easier to come up with and implement viable measures that advance a shared agenda, which is to accelerate the growth of Fintech investment in MENA. The organization will also be building partnerships and engagements that add value to each participating party, individual, or group.
The MENA Fintech Association plans on making the most out of the rapidly growing and maturing Fintech scene. Their goal is to turn the MENA region into an inclusive financial hub in which both established and emerging businesses can thrive. Local and cross-border collaboration on ecosystem development will play a vital part in executing MFTA’s strategies.