DUBAI — Fintech Galaxy, the MENA region’s only fintech digital crowdsourcing platform, celebrated individuals and institutions through the “FinX – Excellence in Fintech” awards, that took place at the debut FinX 2018 event. Supported by a global panel of judges, and spread across 16 categories, the awards recognized and honored those individuals and institutions that are enabling the growth of the financial ecosystem in the MENA region.
The event was attended by high-level executives such as Rasheed Al Maraj, Governor of the Central Bank of Bahrain; Alexandru Badulescu, General Manager Middle East, Africa and South Asia at Western Union; David Shrier, Professor of Fintech at Oxford University and CEO & Founder of Distilled Analytics; Sammy Kayello, Chairman and CEO of Morgan Stanley MENA; and Deepak Khanna, Chief Investment Officer at International Finance Corporation.
The event also celebrated the signing of an MoU to establish a global fintech supercluster comprised of highly reputable fintech entities that are focused on promoting the global movement of fintech startups and addressing opportunities and challenges facing the fintech sphere in the Middle East and North Africa and worldwide. It creates global-local linkages necessary to promote the acceleration of the financial markets’ digital transformation and a culture of seamless collaboration among members, and within local and regional ecosystems.
Emirates NBD was awarded ‘Most Innovative Bank of the Year’, Mashreq won ‘MENA Digital Bank of the Year’ for Mashreq Neo, Al Baraka Banking Group won ‘Most Innovative Islamic Bank of the Year’, CIB-Egypt was named as ‘Financial Inclusion Champion of the Year’, and First Abu Dhabi Bank was awarded ‘Digital Transformation Leader of the Year’.
Governments and regulators were also honored for their continuous investment in and support of the regional fintech startup community, with Abu Dhabi Global Market winning ‘Most Innovative MENA Fintech Regulator’, and the ‘MENA Fintech Hub of the Year’ being awarded to Team Bahrain which comprised of the Central Bank of Bahrain, Bahrain Economic Development Board, and Bahrain Fintech Bay.
“Like in any disruptive trend, with increased innovation, comes increased competition. This applies even more so to the digital world we now live in – it brings out the best in individuals and pushes them to ensure their product delivers real value and encourages various hubs to constantly improve to create an environment that is conducive to success. However, without the right investment, support and mentorship from regulators, venture capitals, and investors, these individuals and startups wouldn’t be able to deliver that product as successfully,” said Mirna Sleiman, Founder & CEO, Fintech Galaxy.
“FinX 2018 was more than just an awards event. It provided a common platform to bring together all players in the MENA fintech ecosystem, with attendance from regulators in the various markets. With their support, we celebrated those individuals and institutions that are serving as catalysts to bring the MENA region to the forefront of the fintech space.” added Sleiman.
In addition to regional banks and regulators, the awards also recognized startups, venture capitals, and investor networks in the region. Dinarak from Jordan was awarded ‘Financial Inclusion Startup of the Year’, and Dubai Technology and Entrepreneurship Center (DTEC) won ‘MENA Fintech Accelerator of the Year’. Shorooq, Middle East Venture Partners (MEVP), Women Angel Investors Network (WAIN), 500 Startups, Saned, and Hala were all recognized for their investment in Sarwa with the ‘MENA Fintech Investment of the Year’ award, Craig Moore of Beehive was named ‘MENA Fintech Entrepreneur of the Year’, ArabianChain was awarded ‘MENA Fintech Startup of the Year’, and Germany’s Prisma Analytics was awarded ‘Global Fintech Startup of the Year’.
“Working with the next generation of innovators stimulates the thinking about why we need to innovate. In the MENA region, 92% of the population is underbanked or unbanked, and so there is a tremendous amount of opportunity to help people if we can just figure out ways to innovate our systems. Banking systems in general are struggling to keep up with the pace of change. This is why we need to innovate and educate. However, educating entrepreneurs is only one step, but what comes next? That’s where institutions like Fintech Galaxy come in – to turn a great idea into reality. I am honored to have received recognition from an organization that is playing such a great role in the uprising of the fintech space in the region,” commented David Shrier, Founder & CEO at Distilled Analytics, Inc.
Farah Fastouk, Chief Executive for Middle East at Lazard Asset Management; David Shrier, CEO & Founder of Distilled Analytics, Inc.; and Raja El Mazrouei, Executive Vice President of the Fintech Hive at DIFC, were recognized as ‘MENA Fintech Mentor of the Year’, ‘Global Fintech Person of the Year’, and ‘MENA Fintech Person of the Year’ respectively.
While global fintech investment roared ahead at a record pace in the first half of 2018, with $57.9B invested across 875 deals, a significant increase from the US$38.1B invested in all of 2017(KPMG, 2018), the financial technology market in MENA is currently estimated at $2 billion and expected to witness an annual growth of $125 million until 2022, according to Anthony Hobeika, CEO of MENA Research Partners (MRP).
Fintech Galaxy provides a forum for business networking opportunities, with the award-winning initiatives serving as catalysts for the evolution of new ideas, entrepreneurs, and leaders, to stimulate growth and stir the region’s economy, and celebrate excellence in the financial technology sphere. — SG