BIT’24 Doha offers insights into the future of banking

Fintech revenue is expected to continue increasing (15 per cent per annum) over the next three years, outpacing global banking

By Karishma Nandkeolyar

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Published: Mon 27 May 2024, 6:02 PM

Last updated: Mon 27 May 2024, 6:44 PM

The Banking Innovation and Technology Summit in Doha (BIT’24 Doha) brought together industry leaders, innovators and disruptors on May 27, 2024. The invite-only event was held in the Ballroom at Grand Hyatt Doha and saw a packed audience.

The summit was held by Khaleej Times in partnership with WeValue.

The day-long event began with an address by Khaleej Times’ CEO Ravi Tharoor, who called the summit “a celebration of innovation and progress”.

He said: “The banking and fintech sector in Qatar currently provides a wide array of sophisticated products and services to meet the diverse needs of our customers, from traditional banking solutions to cutting-edge innovations. Because it has embraced disruptions with open arms, fostering a vibrant ecosystem of start-ups, accelerators, and investment initiatives aimed at unleashing the full potential of fintech innovation.”

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As he welcomed the audience, Tharoor explained that collaboration and sustainability are key to driving success, saying that there needs to be a focus on creating a supportive ecosystem for innovation.

He also introduced Georges Khalil, Associate Partner, McKinsey & Company to an eager crowd.

Khalil presented fintech insights from the global fintech report, explaining that the industry is experiencing rapid growth, with a focus on cost management, revenue optimisation, and collaboration between banks and Fintechs. Fintech revenue is expected to continue increasing (15 percent per annum) over the next three years, outpacing global banking.

With an eye to keep the audience engaged, the summit hosted its first panel discussion, which saw Gaurav Sachdeva, Co-Founder and CEO, The Founders Majlis; Ashish Bahl, Director Account Management, Mastercard; Imane Adel, EVP of Strategy, Paymob; Alain Raes, Founding Partner and Chief Commercial Officer, iPiD; and Haseeb Iqbal, Head of Retail Products, Doha Bank discuss the theme ‘Navigating the Evolving Payments Landscape: Innovations, Breakthroughs, and the Journey Towards a Cashless Society’.

The panel highlighted the global shift towards a cashless society, along with the changing payments landscape and evolving payment methods. The speakers stressed the importance of protecting payment systems and integrating digital payments into the economy. Talking about the evolution of the payment industry and factors that have led to the cashless movement, they explained that there is still a need for faster and cheaper money movement.

Adel said: “We also have to invest quite a lot of education, especially when it comes to the older generation [which may not be so tech savvy]… we have to also let the system think about ways to make it easier and not just focus on solutions. We should integrate as many new payment methods as possible to allow the merchants to accept payments seamlessly [as well].”

The second panel saw Eng. Zaki Ahmed, Director for Sustainability Advisory, GORD-Gulf Organisation for Research and Development; Thuraya Nasser Al-Mulla, CEO and Co-Founder, Receipts LLC; Dr. Elena Primikiri, Associate Partner – ESG, Uniqus Consultech Inc; and Hirander Misra, Chairman and CEO, GMEX Group and ZERO13 talking about green finance. The subject of the session was ‘Empowering A Sustainable Future: Green Finance’.

During the session, the speakers talked of the role banks play in promoting sustainable finance, innovative solutions to unlock the value of carbon credits, managing passwords through blockchain technology, and integrating Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) risk assessment and incentives in banking operations. The importance of local government consultation and data collection, as well as the potential of voluntary carbon markets were also discussed.

Panel three saw Paul Hamilton, Managing Director, Ibtikar; Amit Tripathi, Founder and CEO, Icogz; and Mirna Naccash, Director - Marketing and Communications, Lesha Bank engage in a panel discussion on evolving customer needs and preferences. The conversation centred around the importance of understanding human emotions, trust, and communication in the banking industry. The panellists emphasised the need for banks to adopt innovative strategies to enhance customer experience and profitability, while preventing cyber fraud through collaboration.

One of the most interesting highlights of the conversation centred on the evolution of customer needs over generations and the banking behaviour of Generation Z.

Tripathi explained: “One of the things that really matters is super hyper personalisation. About 70,000 marketing tools have been introduced; marketing is getting complicated. This is where AI comes in to play a vital role in terms of integration of disparate datasets.”

Hani Khateeb, FinTech Specialist, Qatar FinTech Hub (QFTH) at Qatar Development Bank then took the stage, highlighting the success of Qatar FinTech Bay in supporting and managing FinTech start-ups, emphasising the importance of regulatory frameworks, acceleration and incubation programs, and investments in start-ups. He also spoke about the need for banks to consider partnerships with fintech start-ups.

The next session saw a panel discussion by Sidd Gandhi, Partner, growX Ventures; Awdesh Chetal, Venture Partner, Risin Ventures; Peter Schatzberg, General Partner, Shatranj Capital Partners; Sunil Sharma, Partner at SuperAdvisors; and Karan Teckchandani, Investment Associate at Antler MENAP. The experts talked about the role of venture capital in driving innovation and growth and how Qatar and MENA region can lead the way. The key takeaways included the importance of understanding the local market, identifying the right entrepreneurs, and taking a long-term approach. Speakers also emphasised the need for government support, talent acquisition, and a culture that accepts failure.

The next panel saw a discussion on Qatar's digital banking frontier: strategies for AI-driven innovation and market entry. The experts on stage included the moderator Kate Bunina, Head of MENA, Cleevio and panelists Tristan Brandt, Managing Director, Alvarez & Marsal; Michael Javier, CEO & Founder, C Wallet Services W.L.L.; Ahmad Ghandour, Managing Director - Saudi Arabia, Backbase; and Georges Khalil, Associate Partner, McKinsey & Company.

Ghandour said Backbase has been working with both digital and other banks. “We move to another level of customer centric, which is the hybrid personalisation, which when you really want to serve a customer need, to focus on that persona. Because of banks having a unified offers one size fits all, and everyone wants who must have better ideas. And when requested by multiple minds, for example, to build applications that can really identify a client from their ID. And then via interface of the application of experience in the upright, and B2B illustrates the different competency based on actual needs of that individual to have personalisation, and I believe, going even further, which is there's a lot of untapped market at the moment.”

Last panel of the day dealt with the subject of innovative product strategies: the rise of buy now, pay later (BNPL). Akshay Chopra, Managing Partner, 237 Ventures played moderator. He was joined by Mohammed Al Delaimi,Co- Founder, PayLater ( Also Founder and CEO, SkipCash); Salvador Perez, Senior Advisor, Global Government Engagement, Visa; Salman Surti, Programs Lead, Qatar FinTech Hub (QFTH)-Qatar Development Bank; and Yassir Pasha, Co- Founder, Simpaisa.

Gaurav Dhar, Group CEO – Marshal Fintech Partners, closed the event with a keynote address on embracing change and innovation in the MENA banking and fintech ecosystem.


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