An expert’s perspective on succeeding in mobile banking and finance in MEA

To dive deeper on some of the findings of our fintech mobile report, we sat down with Mohamed Keshk from EFG Hermes to talk about future trends, challenges and best practice in finance and banking today

To dive deeper into some of the findings of our recent fintech mobile report, we reached out to banking and finance professionals in a series of conversations. We explored region-specific challenges and how different institutions keep up with the industry’s increasingly mobile-first direction.

There’s no doubt that finance and banking are going through a cataclysmic change from a technology viewpoint. Whether it’s enhanced user experience, extensive security features, or releasing more and more intuitive mobile applications to cater to ever-shifting customer needs — both fintechs and incumbents need to step up their game to offer a seamless experience for their end-users.

Our recent finance and banking mobile report shed light on some of the key trends, challenges, and opportunities that fintechs and technology-adept banking institutions face today. From quicker payments and transactions, through wallet interoperability, to leveraging machine learning for better solutions, it has become clear that today’s marketplace requires product managers and banking professionals to rethink user experience on mobile and adopt new technologies on the way for longevity.

In the first round of our series of interviews, we sat down with Mohamed Keshk, Product Manager at EFG Hermes to discuss how he sees the industry transformation from a traditional banking institution in MEA and how he imagines the future of mobile banking to look like for similar companies and their customers. Here’s an excerpt from our conversation:

Bitrise: MEA famously has a mobile-first economy, where a lot of consumers have skipped over the PC as a personal computing device and went straight to mobile. How do you think this mobile-first mindset has helped or hindered mobile fintech adoption in the region?

Mohamed: It significantly helped mobile fintech adoption in many ways. Financial institutions along telecom operators have capitalized on the 109.4% mobile penetration rate (according to the CBE) by issuing e-wallets and providing e-payments services such as P2P payments, bill payments, and a host of other payment services. On the public side, the CBE established the ‘Meeza’ payment scheme enabling e-wallet interoperability and POS payments to accelerate the adoption of digital mobile payments in Egypt.

Bitrise: Who do you look up to in the region, and why? Which team looks to have really cracked the mobile finance and banking challenge?

Mohamed: Until now, no one has really nailed it yet, with that being said, the best answer would be ‘Fawry’ as they have been one of the first players to foray into that space. Today, they have a sound network and infrastructure, enabling the possibility for different fintech players to collaborate and offer complementary financial services. For example, ‘valU’, a buy-now-pay-later solution owned by EFG Hermes Finance (EFG Hermes Holding’s NBFI arm) is integrated with ‘Fawry’, leveraging their extensive network to allow payments through ‘valU’. Another example, ‘PayFort’, an e-payment gateway established in the UAE in 2013 and later acquired by Amazon has greatly accelerated online payments across the region. Fintech players do not always compete, but for the most part, cooperate and synergize.

Bitrise: What new or upcoming technologies do you think will add the most value to mobile finance and banking, and why? Examples would be biometric identification (fingerprint, facial recognition), AI, etc.

Mohamed: In my opinion, the main strength of mobile finance and banking is the seamless experience from the onboarding cycle to the first successful transaction. Looking ahead at current technologies that will satisfy this experience, biometric authentication, OCR and AI algorithms for alternative credit scoring are crucial for the advancement of fintech development in the region.

Bitrise: What is the one lesson you feel like the rest of the world could learn from mobile banking and finance in MEA?

Mohamed: I think one lesson would be: “don’t take no for an answer”. This, I believe, applies to consumer behavior when it comes to trusting electronic payment versus cash transactions and the regulations that are obstacles for digital financial transformation.

In case you’re looking to start a conversation regarding your specific use case, feel free to reach out for a conversation with our experts.

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