Global banking software titan Misys unveiled its new range of online and mobile banking products in Dubai recently, and named the emirate as being key to its expansion strategy in Mena.
With two decades of experience in the region, Misys launched its new BankFusion Digital Channels platform at the recent Misys Mena Market Forum 2013, to enhance the way banks provide products and services via the Internet or mobile devices.
Since banking customers will almost certainly have mobile devices and access to the Internet through Wi-Fi and mobile web, Misys have put digital 'at the heart of a multi-channel strategy'. AMEinfo spoke to CEO Brett Bolin about his perspective on the evolution of banking in the Middle East landscape.
"Some people look at this region as a new growth region. We have a different perspective. We've been in this region for over 20 years and it is very established," said Bolin. "I think the interesting part is that the success this region has had from overall economic growth over the last 10 years. It's a very high growth environment, but it's a very mature and stable environment from an economic growth perspective."
"One of the things that excites about this region is local banks that are becoming regional players and regional becoming global players," he said. "That global nature and expansion really helps to define the landscape of regulatory risk management requirements."
Despite being a region tied together by language and a variety of cultural norms, including Islamic banking traditions, one of Bolin's biggest challenges has been the differing compliance issues across Mena, which he now sees becoming increasingly uniform.
"Because of our global strength we see regulatory requirements being unfolded on a very broad basis, so we can use that knowledge to really support our clients as they look to expand outside of the region itself," he says.
"We support our clients as they work through Basil 2 and Basil 3 compliance … ensuring that our clients are able to have a more efficient total cost of ownership, which allows them to invest into more of their own growth strategies in both the regional and product markets."
Misys' business spans core banking, capital markets, trade finance, lending and risk management. With a cross-value chain view on the impact of technology on financial services, Bolin recognises the importance of Dubai, and gatherings like Mena Market Forum, in terms of connecting with clients and partners.
"We're really excited to use this forum, and use Dubai, as our centre of excellence for our Bank Fusion digital channel strategy. We see that our clients in this region, as well as in Africa, as needing to look at game-changing events as it relates to them doing business with their end user customer," he said.
In terms of the willingness and enthusiasm for Mena banks to incorporate new technologies and solutions, Bolin's view is of a 'sophisticated' regional market, reinforced by strong public sector support.
"We see adoption, not only in the retail banking side with things like digital channels, but also our capital markets clients really driving sophisticated approaches towards capital markets trading – without some of the overhang or the negative banking connotations that financial centres like London or New York may have, because of either the government pressure of the public perception," he said.
In the World Bank report "Doing Business 2013", GCC countries ranked in the top 40 out of 185 listed. The Levant and North African regions are also looking to reshape financial institutions' business strategies, develop innovative products and improve their risk management tools to strengthen customer trust. Governments in 13 Arab economies have implemented regulatory reforms within the past year, ensuring a more business friendly regulatory environment.
"We really see this region has both having government support for the growth of financial markets, as well as companies wanting to drive innovation and sophistication, both in how they address their corporate clients as well as, in the case of our digital channels, how they address the end user retail customer as well. So we see this as a great growth opportunity region for us," explained Bolin.