The Business Year

Fintech is well poised to be Dubai's key sector, and the Emirate needs to look into bringing the fintech and broader financial industry together to start collaborations to reap the most benefits.

Paolo Gagliardi

CEO, Trriple

We are a regulatory applications developer. We focus specifically on the Know Your Customer (KYC) process that banks use to identify their customers. Currently, KYC is a painful, inefficient, and labor-intensive process for banks. It costs the UAE financial sector close to USD1 billion per year to satisfy regulatory needs around KYC. At the same time, it is a process with an extremely high degree of duplication, both on the bank and customer side, when customers have more than one banking relationship. The norbloc KYC platform, Fides, allows for the KYC file to be carried between financial institutions by the customer, removing duplicated efforts both for the banks and their clients, saving time and reducing costs substantially. We use blockchain technology to store and share the information in a highly secure, auditable, and legally compliant manner. Blockchain technology allows customers to move, in an auditable fashion, their validated KYC information between institutions. Hence, duplication of efforts is removed as the recipient of the KYC file can also see the validating stamp of the first entity the customer has on-boarded. We are currently implementing our platform in two European countries with six financial institutions. We expect to be in production by early 2019 in markets covering around 20 million customers.

Muna Al-Qassab

CEO, Emcredit

Clearly is a digital neo bank; we do not have a banking license or our own balance sheet but instead partner with an existing bank that needs to transform digitally. We leverage an asset that we do not own, though we make money from that asset while helping its owner to create value. We are to banks what Uber is to taxis. Banks’ current strategy of repackaging and rebranding their digital banking services does not represent a sustainable approach for the future. Banks pay us for every customer we bring them through our digital platform, and we receive the maintenance fee. Rather than come and disrupt the market, we partner with existing banks and disrupt from within, because it will benefit the entire financial ecosystem. Working with an existing institution allows us to enter the market more quickly, be efficient with capital, and benefits both us and the partner bank. Because the capital is already in the bank, we can focus on investing in technology and our brand. Any bank can partner with us and within 12 months have their whole digital bank set up, and this happens at zero cost to them because we bring the investment. It is a low risk way of building up their digital bank with us.

Jafar Babayev

CEO, Jafar Babayev

With our SaaS offering, we have built a Bridg(e) that connects the offline with the online, but without relying on infrastructure as we are focused on emerging markets. Our patent-pending technology, OneConnect, enables such communication to occur between the devices without the need of additional hardware or connectivity. There are two different types of connectivity scenarios within our product. The first is the ability for at least one device to be offline. However, we also have a completely offline scenario where a user tops up their digital funds when they are online and when they are offline they can make transactions as they would with cash. Our product is Bluetooth based because it is one of the most democratically available, open source, wireless protocols in the world. Over 90% of smartphones in the world today are Bluetooth enabled. In addition, Bluetooth already has features such as connectivity and distance awareness, which are factors that add to security when it comes to a transactional environment. We go after developing markets such as sub-Saharan Africa, which have their own unique challenges. The number-one constant among developing countries is the fact that smartphones are becoming cheap, and cheap phones are becoming smart. We leverage this to empower the rapidly growing financial ecosystem.

Craig Moore

CEO, Beehive

We are a digital, peer-to-peer lending platform for SMEs. Retail investors come to our platform to invest in SME businesses in the UAE that seek to raise debt finance. Rather than going to the bank for a loan, SMEs come onto the Beehive platform. We check their application via our risk and credit model, determine if they are a creditworthy SME, and put them on the platform, where investors can bid to invest in that business. Once that is complete, the business will get the money and make monthly payments to Beehive, which will in turn distribute that money back to investors. This is all done on the proprietary platform that we built in house. We only work with SMEs, not start-ups. Through the technology, we allow people to invest amounts of money as low as USD25. That means people can spread their investments across the platform. Most importantly, we target a segment of the market that is a growth area. The millennials setting up businesses today are more likely to set up companies that are knowledge-based, digital, and asset light. We target such businesses that are high growth and connect with the community and audience.

Moussa Beidas

CEO & Co-Founder, Bridg

Maliyya is a sharia-compliant P2P finance and investment platform. We give individuals the opportunity to invest with other individuals and avoid banks. We are disrupting the banking industry by removing banks from the chain. However, it does not mean that institutions, such as banks and insurance companies, cannot invest through our platform. The benefit of using our service is that it is cheaper, easier, and quicker to borrow through us. At the same time, on the lenders’ side, it provides additional opportunities to invest, as well as more opportunities to invest for people with small investment sums. The major advantage of Maliyya compared to other platforms is that we are completely sharia compliant. Initially we are starting with the introduction of two consumer products, personal car finance, and real estate financing, both residential and commercial. The reason we came to Dubai from Azerbaijan to start Maliyya is that the UAE enables the implementation of fintech projects. We were selected by FinTech Hive amongst numerous applicants and are extremely glad to be here because the support provided by FinTech Hive has been enormous. The government here is doing a great deal to develop the fintech sector in many centers.

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