|05 December, 2019

Breakthrough insights unfold at WIBC in Bahrain

FinTechs need to have the proper IT security and regulatory certainty

The ongoing World Islamic Banking Conference in Bahrain has witnessed over 1,000 delegates and experts, over 50 country representations, 98 partners and 60 high-profile speakers providing breakthrough insights for the growth of Islamic finance.

The 26th anniversary edition of The World Islamic Banking Conference (WIBC), the largest and longest-running gathering of Islamic banking and finance leaders in the world, is being held under the patronage of HRH Prince Khalifa Bin Salman Al Khalifa, Prime Minister of Bahrain,

Convened by Middle East Global Advisors - a leading financial intelligence platform facilitating the development of knowledge-based economies in the MenaSEA markets and in strategic partnership with the Central Bank of Bahrain, the forum is spurred a series of discussions focusing on “Mega Trends in Banking and Finance”, a theme that resonates with the conference’s steady vision to serve as a definitive check point for the global Islamic finance and banking industry.

Mazin Al-Nahedh, Group chief executive officer, Kuwait Finance House, Winner of the Best Islamic Digital Bank said: “Banks are investing in their own technology, as well as collaborating with FinTechs, to gain new capabilities. Simultaneously, digital banks were noted to be emerging as a direct competitor to the large institutions, taking advantage of technology and low operating costs to potentially provide cheaper products than traditional banks while meeting growing consumer demand for digital services. Competition between banks and new entrants may give way to direct collaboration across the Fintech ecosystem.”

“However, several major impediments inhibit collaboration between banks and FinTechs. From the banks’ perspective, FinTechs need to have the proper IT security and regulatory certainty, while FinTechs believe banks can be hard to work with due to differences in management and culture as well as differences in operational processes.

“One important point to add in general about the whole FinTech, BigTech, debate as it relates to the banking industry- which is that although there are technological demands from the customers who are increasingly becoming more tech savvy, it remains that banking is a ‘service’ industry and there is a key factor that needs to be addressed which is the special relationship between the banking institution and the customer who is looking for financial services.

“It is a very intimate and complex relationship that requires human interaction across the lifetime of the banking customer to meet their needs, and this is the part that will dictate success or failure,” he added.

The 26th WIBC also recognized excellence within the Islamic finance and banking industry at a high profile Gala Dinner whereby WIBC Performance Awards were presented by Adnan Ahmed Yousif, president & chief executive, Al Baraka Banking Group, chairman, Bahrain Association of Banks (BAB), to the top performing Islamic financial institutions based on their performance in the WIBC Leaderboard – a groundbreaking performance assessment tool aimed at enabling Islamic financial institutions to benchmark their performance against their peers.

Al Rajhi Bank bagged the Best Performing Bank Award for Global & Mena regions, testament to its strong performance in the financial metrics of the WIBC Leaderboard.

Other winners at the 26th Annual WIBC Performance Awards include:

• Best Performing Bank – Levant - Jordan Islamic Bank

• Best Islamic Bank for Sustainable Initiatives – Al Baraka Banking Group

• Best CSR Islamic Banking Group - Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank

• Best Islamic Bank (Financial Performance) - Dubai Islamic Bank

• Best Islamic Bank (Financial Stability) - Kuwait Finance House

• Best Islamic Digital Bank - Kuwait Finance House

• Fastest Growing Islamic Fintech bank - Ithmaar Bank

• Best Islamic Investment Bank – GFH Financial Group

• Top Law Firm for M&A - Mena - Baker McKenzie

• Top Advisory Firm for M&A – Mena – J.P. Morgan

• Top Consultancy Firm for M&A – Mena - PwC

Some key highlights from the final day include the panel discussions focusing on The Objectives of Shari’ah and Islamic Finance, SMEs & Financial Inclusion, Sustainable Finance & Corporate Social Responsibility, Project Financing via Sukuk where leading industry experts analysed the challenges at hand and focused on coming up with effective suggestions with the ultimate aim of developing a convergence roadmap for the Islamic Finance industry at large.

In the panel discussion on SMEs & Financial Inclusion, Noor Azmi Mat Said, chief executive officer, SME Corporation Malaysia said, “One of the key issues in SME development is "Access to Financing". About 95 per cent of business establishment in all economies are SMEs.

“We must be creative in packaging our offering as different level of SMEs i.e. micro, small and medium, differs in needs and capability. Emerging model such as hybrid, equity crowd funding, peer to peer funding, crowd funding, supply side financing, etc. are taking shape and popularity. Further, "borderless financing", "geo-economical disruption" and "industry 4.0" are also coming. Are current Islamic Banking model offering ready to compete for SMEs given such scenario?”

One of the unique features of WIBC 2019 was the new application that was launched for the event – ME Global Advisors which listed the Program for the delegates. It was also used for easy registration, Live Question & Answers, One to One Meeting Invites and Live Polling. – TradeArabia News Service

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