EU FinTechs Drawn to MENA Region’s Digital Payments and Merchant Growth

The introduction of open banking, enabled by the revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2), has significantly transformed the digital payments space in Europe, boosting competition in the banking industry and allowing consumers to share their account information with non-bank third parties using application programming interfaces (APIs).

Shalom Dodoun, CEO at U.K.-based FinTech firm FintechCashier, even went so far as to call the scheme “revolutionary” in how it has significantly cut down transaction times — unlike traditional payments systems, whereby it can take several days to receive a payment.

“With open banking, it takes a fraction of a second for a consumer to transfer money to a business and [as a result] businesses don’t need to wait. It’s instant cash flow,” he told PYMNTS in an interview.

Apart from open banking, the London-based company Dodoun co-founded offers a broad range of payment services to small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs), from eWallets, credit card processing and SWIFT to wire solutions, all in a one-step integration.

The Financial Conduct Authority-regulated FinTech firm also collaborates with 100-plus banks and financial partners to help SMBs make multi-currency payments worldwide via a single gateway, servicing 150 countries while offering 35 processing currencies and 20 settlement currencies.

“FintechCashier is the central financial hub for businesses that want to reach the global marketplace and we perform that integration through our gateway, making it very simple to have companies come in and gain exposure to the marketplace,” he explained.

Regulators Embrace Digital Payments

Beyond Europe, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is an increasingly attractive market for the firm, Dodoun said, given the huge opportunities that the rapid adoption of digital payments presents for business growth.

And there is data to back that up. According to a recent six-country study conducted by PYMNTS, consumers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) emerged the most “mobile” when it comes to in-store shopping, with 59% of them — approximately 882,000 consumers — using their smartphones to enhance their in-store shopping journeys in 2021, higher than that of any any country surveyed.

Read the report: 2022 Global Digital Shopping Index

Against that backdrop, the company recently announced a £10 million ($12.7 million) investment in the region to support the creation of a financial gateway center in Bahrain that will enable it to extend its digital payment solution to the region’s growing merchant base.

“We’ve seen major financial institutions moving to the MENA region and observed the rapid adoption of digital payments, which is the most important [growth driver] today,” he argued.

The U.K. firm is also engaged in ongoing discussions with regulators to open an investment firm, which will provide regulated services to its local clients while also building strong regional partnerships that it will leverage as other players emerge on the scene.

“The [rapid] adoption of digital payments is not only attracting us to MENA, it’s also driving a lot of companies to the region as well,” Dodoun said. “And the fact that regulatory bodies in the region, especially the prestigious Central Bank of Bahrain, have [embraced digital payments] is an indication that more companies will be drawn to the region moving forward.”


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