FinTech UAE

With Dubai being placed as one of the top 10 FinTech hubs in the world, we look at how the region differentiates itself to attract Financial Institutions to their shores. To do this we are interviewing a series of key thought leaders working in the region to ask their opinions. 

Today we speak to who Amnah Ajmal, Group Executive-Merchants and Commerce, Digital Partenrships & FinTechs, Strategy, M&A at Mastercard in Dubai.

Amnah has lived and worked in 12 countries across Middle East & Africa, Europe, Asia Pacific and North America. She has held several leadership roles with Citigroup in the UK, Hungary and Poland. She then worked at Standard Chartered Bank in Singapore and Malaysia in global retail banking strategy and consumer banking head roles.

She joined Mastercard in 2015 and leads the product and innovation organisation in North America and now heads market development for EEMEA.

Tell us about yourself and your role?

I started my career in banking with Citibank in Europe and then moved to Asia working with Standard Chartered. I left banking and joined technology. I joined Mastercard and headed the product organization in North America. Now I am running Market development for EEMEA, a function focused on building segments like FinTech, crypto, merchants, tech giants etc. 

Both times I was pregnant I changed jobs and countries. I am a mum to a five year old girl and twin boys age 3. 

How did you move into FinTech?

I have always followed my heart and intuition. Whenever I was comfortable and even though people around me thought I am successful I wanted to leave and do something new. I became the youngest consumer bank head at Standard Chartered Bank but I realised even though I really wanted to get there I had to do something new.  

As someone who has worked globally, how would you describe the FinTech eco system in the UAE? 

I love it. It’s inspiring, energetic and entrepreneurial. It has a vibe to it. People want to do things together. Companies want to build the new, the future. FinTechs want to experiment and push the boundaries. Also there is an increasing level of focus on sustainability which is incredible. 

 “It’s inspiring, energetic and entrepreneurial. It has a vibe to it. People want to do things together”

What are the key differences / advantages in the region? 

Every region is different. Having worked in Asia, Europe, the US and the Middle East I would say each region is at a different stage of maturity, regulatory developments and scale. I find this region is advancing very fast and doing many firsts. It is also doing a great job at attracting talent from across the world. I think this is the biggest advantage. Digital transformation isn’t about technology but about people. 

“Digital transformation isn’t about technology but about people”

Do you see more collaboration between Financial Institutions and the FinTech Start up community and if so, why do you think that is more prevalent in this region?

Absolutely, we see different models of collaborations emerging and I think this trend will continue. FinTechs go deep into a particular pain point of consumers and solve it beautifully. However, they lack consumers’ trust, data and scale. Large organizations have exactly what FinTechs lack but may not be agile enough to solve for every consumer experience pain point. So, it’s like a marriage made in heaven. Also, there are lots of government initiatives which encourage this collaboration which helps. 

“We see different models of collaborations emerging and I think this trend will continue”