MEBF 2018 offers exceptional insights into banking industry trends over next 10 years

Sunday 11 November 2018
Dubai - MENA Herald:

Offering exclusive insights into emerging opportunities and challenges facing the banking industry over the next decade, the sixth edition of the UAE Banks Federation (UBF)’s Middle East Banking Forum, one of the leading banking conferences in the region, concluded successfully today, Sunday, 11 November 2018, at Hilton Dubai Al Habtoor City, Dubai.

A host of industry stalwarts, including H.E Dr. Mohammad Y. Al-Hashel, Governor of Central Bank of Kuwait, Olli Rehn, Governor of the Bank of Finland and Member of the Governing Council for the European Central Bank, H.E. Saif Hadef Al-Shamsi, Assistant Governor of the Central Bank of the UAE, H.E. AbdulAziz Al Ghurair, Chairman of the UAE Banks Federation, Brett King, best-selling author of ‘Bank 2.0 and Bank 3.0’, and Founder and CEO of mobile bank ‘Moven,’ headlined the Middle East Banking Forum 2018 under the theme, ‘Banking 10 years from now’.

Presented by the UAE Banks Federation in association with Financial Times, the forum attracted 24 prominent speakers and over 500 delegates from 38 countries, including leading policymakers, as well as senior executives and officials from banks, financial services firms, financial regulators, government entities, consultancies, technology companies, and law firms.

H.E. AbdulAziz Al Ghurair, Chairman of UAE Banks Federation, said: “Featuring thought-provoking sessions and panels that offered unique insights into underlying trends that will reshape the banking industry in the upcoming decade, the Middle East Banking Forum 2018 came to a successful conclusion and we cannot be prouder. The enthusiastic participation of industry regulators, experts and executives is a true reflection of the industry stakeholders’ unwavering commitment to come together and contribute to ongoing efforts focused on future-proofing the regional banking sector. The initiatives such as this forum provide the industry a platform to exchange ideas and expertise to further strengthen its endeavors and UBF will continue to extend its support to build and sustain a thriving banking ecosystem in the region.”

In his address, H.E. Al Ghurair highlighted how the UAE’s banking sector maintained steady growth in spite of volatility across global markets and regional challenges, cementing its position as the largest banking sector in the Arab world. He also shed light on various initiatives UBF launched as part of its endeavors to contribute to the development and growth of the sector. Furthermore, H.E. Al Ghurair stressed the importance of collaboration and collective efforts to future-proof the banking and financial services industry in the face of growing challenges.

Delivering the opening keynote address, Mr. King, who is also a futurist and the host of radio show ‘Breaking Banks’, explored trends that will shape the banking sector over the next 10 years, including the future impact of mobile payments, open banking, robotics, and artificial intelligence. He also examined why embracing change and revisiting business models will become imperative for traditional banks to survive amidst the rise of digital technologies, increasing competition from new non-bank entrants and shifting customer demands.

Offering a central banker’s perspective on forthcoming disruptions, opportunities and challenges, Mr. Rehn highlighted in his keynote address how the financial industry is going through a major transformation driven by the emergence of new technologies and therefore, it is crucial to find the right balance between regulation and innovation in order for consumers and banks to benefit from new possibilities.

The forum also featured an on-stage interview of Daniel Klier, Group Head of Strategy and Global Head of Sustainable Finance, HSBC, with James King, Middle East Editor of The Banker. Mr. Klier explored why sustainable finance is increasingly becoming important and how lenders and investors can contribute to local and international efforts towards creating a more sustainable global economy by incorporating environmental, social and governance principles into their decision making. He highlighted that several banks are playing their part by focusing more on sustainable finance through lending and investing in renewable energy and in businesses that develop or use lower-carbon technologies.

In addition, the event featured four engaging panel discussions. The speakers of the panel, titled ‘Finding a winning retail banking strategy in the digital age’, included Otto Williams, Head of Strategic Partnerships, Fintechs and Ventures, Central & Eastern Europe, Middle East Africa (CEMEA), Visa; Francisco Salcedo, Senior Vice President, Etisalat Digital. The panelists took an in-depth look at how digital payments, open banking APIs, mobile banking, data analytics, cryptocurrencies, blockchain, cloud computing, robotic process automation, artificial intelligence, and the internet of things are transforming the retail banking marketplace.

The panel offered insights on the development and execution of a futuristic strategy to convert these technological advancements into opportunities and overcome challenges cropping up from the rising competition thanks to fintechs and technology companies, changing customer demographics, the current interest rate environment and the growing popularity of Islamic banking.

Featuring a prestigious line-up of speakers, the ‘Financial crime – it can never be eradicated, but it can be contained’ panel highlighted that financial crimes, such as fraud, money laundering, terrorist financing, cyber-attacks, rogue trading are on the rise, and stressed that banks must step up their efforts to safeguard their assets and customers from these threats. The panelists, including Nicholas Cameron, Partner, Head of Forensic, KPMG in the Lower Gulf; Rabih Dabboussi, SVP, Sales, Marketing and Business Development, DarkMatter; John Cusack, Global Head, Financial Crime Compliance and Group Money Laundering Reporting Officer (MLR), Standard Chartered Bank; and Dick Gould, Senior Responsible Officer for the Expert Laundering Evidence Cadre, National Crime Agency, UK, emphasized the importance of collective efforts and the exchange of information in fighting financial crimes.

Another key panel, titled ‘Global financial regulatory reform – no time for a breather’, included David Berman, Partner, Financial Regulation, Latham & Watkins; Mark Carawan, Chief Compliance Officer, and Member of the Operating Committee, Citi; and Anthony Habis, Head of Global Client Management - MEA, BNY Mellon, examined what should be the next course of action of banks as the regulatory reform program introduced in the wake of the global financial crisis is nearly complete.

‘The ethical and responsible banker’ panel, explored the characteristics of an ethical and responsible banker and highlighted UBF initiatives to promote ethical banking in the UAE, beside other various initiatives of regional and global banks towards nurturing a culture of professional competence in their organizations in the wake of rising customer complaints, mis-selling scandals, compliance breaches, and other misdemeanors. The speakers of the panel included Michael Cole-Fontayn, Chairman-Elect, Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment (CISI); and Chairman,  Association of Financial Markets in Europe (AFME); Dame Susan Rice, Chair, Chartered Banker Professional Standards Board, Non-Executive director, C Hoare & Co and Practitioner Member, Banking Standards Board; Christian Leitz, Head, Corporate Responsibility Management, UBS; and Mark Yallop, Chairman, FICC Markets Standards Board (FMSB) and External Member, Prudential Regulation Committee, Bank of England.

First Abu Dhabi Bank, Emirates NBD, ADCB, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, Commercial Bank of Dubai, Bank of Sharjah, and BOK International were the lead banking sponsors of the event, while Visa supported the forum as the exclusive payment sponsor, Emirates Digital Wallet & Old Mutual, associate sponsors; Latham Watkins, legal sponsor; DarkMatter technology sponsor; Etisalat, exclusive digital sponsor, SkyNews Arabia, regional content partner; and The Banker, Headline partner; beside a number of media partners.

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