The Business Year


SAUDI ARABIA - Telecoms & IT

Haytham Kaddoura

CEO, SmartStream Technologies


Haytham Kaddoura has been the CEO of SmartStream Technologies Group since May 2016 after serving as a member of its Board of Directors since 2007. Mr Kaddoura brings over 20 years of experience in investment advisory, asset management, corporate restructuring, strategy formulation and execution for boards of some of the most prominent corporations across the GCC and the greater Middle East and North Africa region. He started his career working with leading management consulting firms, including; Accenture, Booz Allen and Hamilton, PricewaterhouseCoopers and BearingPoint; advising corporations such as; American Express, the Abu Dhabi Offsets Group, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, Dubai Aluminum, and Qatar Foundation. In early 2004, he joined a Dubai Government initiative to establish the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and subsequently helped found DIFC Investment, where he managed part of the quasi-sovereign wealth fund’s portfolio. Mr. Kaddoura holds a Masters Degree in Finance and International Business and a Bachelors Degree in Computer Sciences.

"SmartStream is a leader in the fintech space, serving 2000 Financial Institutions globally, including 70 of the world’s Top 100 Banks."
TBY talks to Haytham Kaddoura, CEO of SmartStream Technologies, about the company’s operations, AI-based innovation, and regional expansion plans.
Could you introduce SmartStream and its operations?

SmartStream is a leader in the fintech space, serving 2000 Financial Institutions globally, including 70 of the world’s Top 100 Banks. Founded in 1989, it currently operates in 21 countries. We are a critical element of our client’s overall risk management and compliance framework, particularly in post-trade processing operations. We drive growth and efficiency, reduce operating costs, and enhance control of the reconciliation of cash, security, and other transactions. Our solution touches many aspects of an institution’s operations, including providing banks with best-in-class expense and revenue efficiency solutions that strategically manage their BC & E expenses; a cash and liquidity management which is a single, integrated solution for real-time enterprise-wide cash and liquidity management and stress testing. Our solutions also offer cross-platform AI-driven data validation and reconciliations, specifically in environments where corporates or Financial Institutions are migrating large volumes of data to new platforms. Our solutions have helped empower institutions to provide more accurate reporting to their regulators and retain greater control over their treasury operations, providing more accurate transaction flows from the front-to-the back office. This has kept SmartStream a leader in this space, capturing over 60% of the market. Applied correctly, our clients could potentially avoid the issues that have recently surfaced in the US with SVB and other banks through early identification of cash and liquidity mismatches.

SmartStream offers a solution called SmartStream Air. What can you tell us about it?

AIR is our AI-based solution that prevents data failure by detecting and repairing errors and exceptions in the data flowing into an institution. A good example would be the internal exchange of data across different systems in correspondent banks. Errors in data could result in inconsistencies and that’s where SmartStream’s solutions can help with identifying data anomalies. This feature makes the process of correcting such irregularities easier and more streamlined for the users. A unique element of AIR is that it constantly learns from what its users are doing, for example to address a particular operational error, and it automatically proposes such amendments to future users.

What possibilities does AI create for the financial sector?

The possibilities are endless. If we look at the level of financial data gathered from such divergent sources as bank transfers, online purchases, credit cards, debit cards, as well as physical geographic locations, large amounts of information are being accrued at an unparallel pace. Artificial Intelligence lets us segment and gather intel from these sources more quickly and efficiently than ever before. It adds intelligence and efficiency to a process that is too large and time-consuming for any organization to process. Today, SmartStream has embedded AI within its solutions to answer its customer’s needs with a site of solutions that are AI enhanced providing unparralled levels of time savings, freeing resources and processing times. High volumes of data, from multiple external and internal sources, that once took weekd or even months to process can now take seconds.

How does SmartStream shape its competitive advantage, especially in Saudi Arabia?

Saudi Arabia is close to my heart. I started my career there in 1994. My first assignment was to work on the automation of check processing for one of the prominent banks there. This was a revolutionary process at the time, but we have come a long way since then. Saudi Arabia is now at the forefront of digitization. We’ve built a global team with an unrivaled knowledge of customer needs, and we have unique relationships and expertise in all the local markets in which we operate. This gives us an edge that no one else can offer.

How is SmartStream capitalizing on this growing demand for digital payment solutions in Saudi Arabia?

A core aim of the Vision 2030 initiative is to increase Saudi’s digital economy, including cashless transactions. Recently, there has been a groundswell of activity that can be seen in Digital banking, Mobile wallets, E-commerce, and Cross-border payments. However, this increase also means there is an increase in exceptions and inconsistencies, which is exactly what SmartStream’s purpose-built solutions were designed to handle. They enable issuers, acquirers, and other digital payment service providers to have a greater level of efficiency and visibility during their digital payment management.

How does SmartStream stay on top of its game for 40 years?

As global as we are, a certain aspect of the business is still run like a family business. My executive team and I are uniquely connected and plugged into the business, wherever it’s taking place, and that knowledge moves rapidly throughout the company, so we understand potential problems or goals before others and have a leading solution ready when it’s needed. The relationship SmartStream has with its’ clients is more of a partnership, which is the key to our enduring success. Our solutions work not only when they are first deployed but also down the road, ever-evolving with their changing needs. We pride ourselves on our ability to understand and respond to the needs of a very diverse client pool.

What are SmartStream’s’ next strategic steps for the year ahead?

We are moving towards further expansion of our footprint in the region. Many Saudi financial institutions have experienced the loss of talent, a trend that is currently being seen across the globe. As people exit a financial institution, they take with them the institutional knowledge which can have a long-lasting effect on how they conduct business on a daily basis. However, increasingly, these institutions are looking to AI for help in finding alternatives and alleviate these concerns. We have listened to our customers and the market and are looking at how an organization can retain that knowledge electronically and through AI. Perhaps, more importantly, we foster an environment that employees find more interesting and engaging. Strategically expanding the capabilities of our solutions, including the use of Artificial Intelligence, and enhancing our client’s ability to manage information better will affect many areas of the business and have a profound effect on decision-making, resource allocation, and customer satisfaction resulting in greater profit and savings.

What are your plans for product innovation and further expansion of the company’s footprint in the region?

At SmartStream we are dedicated on a global basis to exploring and creating new technologies that will be incorporated into our offerings and provide increased benefits to our partners. As we look to the future our efforts will be focused on expanding in the region. We fundamentally believe there are many institutions that can benefit from many of SmartStream’s solutions, whether it’s our Cash Management, Fees and Expense Management, or our latest AI-enabled SaaS reconciliations solutions, our portfolio of market-leading products offers transformative answers to businesses’ hardest questions.



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