MFTA's report navigates regional payment landscape


Nameer Khan, Chairman of MENA Fintech Association.
Nameer Khan, Chairman of MENA Fintech Association.

An essential guide for fintechs venturing into the Middle East payments industry.


A Staff Reporter

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Published: Wed 20 Apr 2022, 5:16 PM

Last updated: Wed 20 Apr 2022, 5:19 PM

The Mena Fintech Association (MFTA), the leading voice of the fintech community in the region, has released the first volume of the Shift report, a comprehensive guide that supports the fintech community in navigating the Mena payment landscape.

Nameer Khan, chairman of Mena Fintech Association, said: ‘Payment is the heart of fintech and backbone of our economies, plus at the pace we are becoming cashless as a society, it’s pivotal for the industry to support it’s development. ’This the first time that the industry has come together to share their knowledge in an all-in-one guide that will serve to foster healthy payment competition and innovation in the Mena region.’’

Shift is the working group, which includes association members focused on payment technology solutions and services, financial education and regulation, and international card networks.

The working group —The London Institute of Banking & Finance (LIBF), Dubai International Financial Centre, Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), Arthur D. Little, BPC,, Codebase Technologies, GPS, Karm, Mastercard, M2P Solutions, Marshal, Taptap Send and YAP — was formed with the objectives of stimulating insightful conversations on regional prime payment topics and fostering a Shift towards the future of payments.

The comprehensive Shift guide will be released in several volumes that cover the core aspects of payments, from regulation, technology and processing to information on trends in specific countries, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Iraq and others.

‘’What's driving the rapid change in the Mena payments landscape is the region’s demographically young societies, who are well versed in the use of digital technology and are contributing to the trend of moving away from cash as a traditional medium of exchange, ’’ said Arjun Singh, Partner and Head of Financial Services Middle East at Arthur D. Little and a contributor to the Shift report.

‘’Recent developments in regulatory initiatives that support a digital economy and cashless society and the impact of pandemic-driven digitalisation on all aspects of daily life have led to an increase in the number of fintechs in the region. These businesses are now replicating successful global models. Moreover, there is an increasing investment from VC and PE firms in the region within the payments sector.’’

The release of the first volume, “Shift – Mena Payments Landscaping”, contains everything a fintech needs to know about the regional payments market. It draws a picture of a diverse region undergoing a significant transformation in how payments are made.

Although the banking sector has been relatively slow to adopt digital payments compared to other parts of the world, a number of factors and trends that are discussed in this report indicate that digital payments are becoming more commonplace across Mena and are disrupting the traditional value chain for payments.

The report describes interesting and continuing developments in the region that are key drivers for change:

• The rise in real-time and faster electronic payment methods

• The growth of embedded payments

• The blurring of lines between payments and lending/investments, such as buy now pay later

• How cash is still a significant element of the overall payments landscape

• The Shift in the competitive landscape with the rise of substitute fintech offerings

Christian Kunz, Head of Group Strategy and Innovation at DIFC Authority, said: “The FinTech sector is witnessing rapid growth and we are delighted to be taking part in creating a comprehensive guide for the FinTech community. At DIFC, we are committed to developing start-up companies through our acceleration programmes that provide innovative solutions and stimulate the growth of companies' businesses within integrated regulatory frameworks.”

Subsequent volumes of the report will cover regulatory and know-your-customer prerequisites, card-issuing models and best practices, cross-border payments and trending products, such as store value cards. —

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