Knowing which technology innovations to invest in now, and which to put on the back burner, is a challenge for any treasurer. But it is particularly difficult for those operating in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where the real-time digital infrastructure is still developing, and paper-based payment methods remain popular.
There’s no doubt that the UAE is making significant strides towards becoming a smart, cashless society. Local governments across the country are implementing schemes to encourage residents to settle their utility bills and pay for public services via digital platforms. And with a relatively young population, and high smartphone penetration, the country is well-placed to take advantage of digital innovations.
It comes as no surprise, then, that fintech firms are starting to flourish in the UAE. The support network around such start-ups is growing too: the Dubai International Financial Centre’s (DIFC) FinTech Hive is proactively encouraging innovation in this space, as is the Department of Economic Development of Abu Dhabi, in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Global Market. With the rise of these new entrants, the country’s financial ecosystem is starting to show signs of disruption, and innovative financial solutions and systems are now coming to market.
For corporates, these new technologies bring significant efficiency opportunities, but they also bring risks, and a requirement for new strategies and implementation resources. What’s more, for time-pressured treasurers, knowing your API (application programming interface) from your AI (artificial intelligence) can be both distracting and daunting. With this in mind, ADCB and TMI hosted roundtable discussions in Abu Dhabi and Dubai in November 2018 to help local treasurers demystify the latest technology developments – and to understand how they can prepare for the forthcoming wave of digital innovation.