Banks must wake up to demands of digital age: Financial technology expert


Banks must wake up to the way technology affects the daily lives of their customers, financial service decision makers have been told this week in Abu Dhabi at an event designed to shape the industry’s future in the Middle East and North Africa.

Digital banking wizard Chris Skinner says banks are in danger of being left behind in the smart phone-driven technology revolution, and has driven that message home at the MEFTECH exhibition and conference, held this week at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.

Skinner, Chair and founder of the European networking forum, the Financial Services Club, points to an urgent need for banks to realize that blockchain is the “Uber” of the banking world to shake up antiquated technologies.

He was a keynote speaker at MEFTECH 2016 where delegates heard a no holds barred commentary on the performance to date by most banks in financial technology.

“Technology is changing every aspect of our daily lives and its march is getting louder, faster and stronger as each day goes by,” said Skinner, whose commentary on digital banking was featured in a special fintech report for The Times and Financial Times at the end of 2015.

“The smartphone revolution has radically restructured every industry from booking a trip (TripAdvisor), a room (Airbnb) or a taxi (Uber), but where’s the Uber of banking?

“There isn’t one yet, and consumers will soon defect to new players unless high street banks wake up. You only have to look at the total immersion of people in their smartphone screens on the train or street to see the impact of consumer technologies.

“That is what disruptive innovators have achieved in travel and related markets, but what is happening in banking? Not a lot. Most large banks have just taken their internet services to a mobile screen or, as I like to think of it, they’ve taken a big-screen banking system and converted it to a small screen.”

MEFTECH 2016’s key theme of ‘discovering why the future is digital’ was prevalent throughout the morning’s talks, with Dominique Corradi, MENA Digital FS Leader of EY Middle East discussing and highlighting the current trends in digital banking in the Middle East regarding the disconnect between customer expectations and what banks offer.

Synechron, the event’s headline sponsor assumed a key position on the show floor, sharing their expertise into local markets.

“Change is coming to the MENA banking sector,” said Faisal Husain, Co-Founder of Chief Executive Officer of Synechron. “The way banking is being done needs to be re-imagined to make room for a more digital approach. The ideas and technology that are becoming more readily available will change the way we interact with customers. The smart use of data will empower both organizations and people to achieve incredible things.”

An international case study, ‘Building India’s Most Innovative Bank’, presented by Anand Kumar Bajaj, Chief Innovation Officer at Yes Bank, highlighted how banks need to cater for their more tech-savvy customers and provide them with digitally innovative yet simple solutions.

Alongside the conference hall, MEFTECH 2016 featured a busy exhibition show floor which included a FinTech Pavilion providing a carefully selected collection of start-up companies an opportunity to showcase their game changing products to delegates on the show floor.

The featured companies, Sedicii, Call Levels, Augur, IDmission, Luminous Banking and TagPay, offered a hands-on demonstration to provide a unique experience for delegates to see the inner workings of their products.

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