The FinTech arena within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) territory is viewed to flourish a period of substantial progress. Despite an extensive Smartphone infiltration, the unbanked populace which is relatively huge. Native Governments have marked the prospects as have familiarized regulations to progress the FinTech market.
Global Firms have as well as have also shown distinguished, as the prevailing minority stake procurement within STC Pay by Western Union determines. This news is prospective to arouse further investment and fast-track the progress of the market. However, what that market will look like precisely is still open to debate.
The circumstances for FinTech evolution in the GCC region are feasible. Smartphone infiltration is at 96 percent, well above the global average of 58 percent. However, FinTech has not advanced at a comparable pace. The global segment of mobile payments in the GCC is mounting, but still far behind other territories (such as Asia Pacific).
Even though the GCC is transmittable up with advanced markets in terms of financial inclusion (around 22 percent of the populace in the GCC is unbanked, associated to around 60 percent in North Africa), many have now underway to turn to smartphone businesses.
Native governments have known the scope for swifter FinTech progress and have sought to announce regulations to simplify market progression. Saudi Arabia, for an illustration, focusses to reach an E-payment mark of 70 percent by 2030.
The government has carried in numerous procedures to make this target achievable, most notably a nationwide QR code for payments in the nation. In 2019, Saudi Payments (on behalf of the regulator, Saudi Arabia Monetary Authority (SAMA), signed a memorandum of understanding to this outcome with twelve parties (nine banks and three FinTech firms).
In January 2021, another substantial advance came to light with the declaration that SAMA is scheduling to go live with its open banking initiative during the initial half of 2022. This transfer is predictable to witness the upsurge of diverse FinTech services, generating improved race and choice for clients.
Bahrain has also been very dynamic in this regard, putting in place strategies to cover supervisory sandboxes, open banking, crypto-assets, and robo-advisory, payment services.
With STC pay becoming the initial FinTech unicorn (valued at more than $1bn) in the Middle East, the high-profile marginal stake purchase marks a symbolic watershed in the progress of the native FinTech market, and carries its probability to the kindness of even more global investors looking for prospects in new territories.
The deal will permit the STC pay itself to alter its attention towards global extension. Although the two parties have been involved in a strategic partnership since October 2018, Western Union’s recently acquired formal shareholding will fortify its incentive for the overall sustenance of this development.
As a result, STC pay’s 4.5 million clients will have admittance to cross-border financial services. For an illustration: – They will be able to direct remittances to other clients’ e-wallets in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America all via the Western Union’s partners, or by utilizing its extensive network of agents for cash dealings.
Provided that the E-wallet market inhabits such a significant share of the overall FinTech sphere, this revolutionary deal offers an apt moment to take stock of its existing status in the territory and consider its future track.
The potential of the GCC fintech market has not been vanished on global firms. In November 2020, it was declared that Western Union had approved to procure a 15 percent minority stake in STC pay at an overall valuation of $1.3bn (a 10 percent stake at $133.3Mn, and a further 5 percent at $66.67m, if STC pay accomplishes to obtain a digital banking licence). The contract is predictable to cease in during the initial quarter of 2021.
This transaction will be a bonus to the Saudi authorities in their bid to upsurge the worth of the nationwide FinTech market to $33bn within 2023. In particular, it will further reinforce the “payments and currency exchange” constituent, which described for 41 percent of the overall Saudi FinTech market within 2019.
Two prospects that strongly emerge out of the prevailing circumstances are: –
- The initial option is that the native E-wallet market will follow the same trend of association witnessed in mature markets. Numerous E-wallets have been discontinued in the United States during the preceding few years, including Citi Pay, Wells Fargo Wallet, Chase Pay and Capital One.
- The other possible directive for the blossoming of the market is that smaller E-wallet start-ups will engross in product innovation elsewhere the payments segment. We can see relevant illustrations from throughout globally.
Many banks have bent to penetrating competition from prevalent digital wallets like the Apple Pay or Google Pay by participating with them instead.
In Europe meanwhile, pure payment players like Worldline, Worldpay and Ingenico have accomplished multiple targets in present years, serving them to upsurge transaction volumes and progress their range of services.
In the GCC territory itself, alliance would largely shoot from a deficiency of relevant capabilities, like principal edge technology platforms or explore and development, within individual businesses.
After all, the market for the numerous elements of the FinTech market, like that of E-wallets, near-field announcement, blockchain as well as virtual reality, is only embryonic.
Moreover, although the conventional banks have become robust in data analytics, many have arranged investment in submission over competences, although data and open APIs are likely to emerge as top of the schedule following the open banking announcement.
Paytm, a prevalent E-wallet in India, bids gaming services finished its Paytm First Games brand which has more than half a million vigorous daily users.
E-wallets also have prospects for progress through avenues like the merchant loyalty programmes, adapted financial supervision or planning tools. Time will tell which specific direction is the GCC FinTech market will go. However, post the Western Union’s investment in STC pay, swift evolution looks a safe bet.