Mr Sael AlWaary

Held under the patronage of the Central Bank of Bahrain and hosted by Bank ABC, the 4th MEA Fintech Forum brings together regional regulators and other industry leaders to focus on
regulation in the rapidly evolving low-touch economy, and the emergence of Central Bank Digital Currencies among other budding topics.


Manama, Bahrain: Bank ABC is set to welcome the region’s leading financial thought leaders, regulators and world-renowned commentators to the MEA Fintech Forum 2020. Recognised as the ‘Davos of Fintech’, the forum will be streamed live for a global audience of more than 2000 delegates on 24 and 25 November, via a state-of-the-art virtual event platform.

One of the key highlights of this year’s forum is the regulators’ panel discussion, it will bring together H.E. Rasheed Al Maraj, Governor of the Central Bank of Bahrain, H.E. Dr. Ahmed Abdulkarim Alkholifey, Governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) and Dietrich Domanski, Secretary General of the Financial Stability Board. It will be moderated by Dr. Gillian Tett, the Chairman of the US Editorial Board and America Editor-at-Large, Financial Times, to discuss how regulation can keep pace with the speed of innovation and adapt to maintain the trust and confidence of consumers. They will also share their views on the benefits and pitfalls of digital currencies, virtual licenses which are trending in the Fareast among other pertinent topics impacting financial services today.

Themed ‘Banking Beyond Digital’, the two-day forum will highlight some of the challenges and opportunities in the region’s financial services sector; most notably, next generation digital payments and the future of digital currencies, regulation in digital age, the top threat listed by CEOs; cyber security. With contactless quickly becoming the safest way to pay, customers now value the simplicity, seamlessness and security offered by digital payments. The recent spike in this trend has further been enhanced as a result of the safety measures being adopted globally in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the map of the digital payments landscape is redrawn, the sector will need to cooperate more closely on digital payments if it is to provide an enhanced banking experience that puts customers’ needs first.

Bank ABC Deputy Group Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Sael Al Waary said: “The regulators will play a pivotal role in enabling innovation and development of the no-touch economy. We are really excited to host the Regulator’s Panel this year and look forward to hearing directly from them how they envisage the digital ecosystem of tomorrow.”

“Now in its fourth year, and as the world adapts to a new normal, we’re excited to bring together an even broader and more diverse representation of leading experts from the financial services and fintech sectors in what has consistently been called out as one of the most compelling and inspiring events of its kind. With a significant number of incumbent financial institutions realizing now more than ever that digitization is no longer about progress but about survival, it has never been more important for public and private sectors to come together to share knowledge and best practices. As we continue to facilitate the Fintech conversation, we hope to spur further collaboration and innovation across the ecosystem for the greater good of society,” added Mr. Al Waary.

A separate CEO’s panel moderated by Anthony Thomson on Day-2 of the forum will see CEO of ila Bank, Mohamed Al Maraj, CEO of Bank 86 400, Robert Bell, and CEO of Mox, Deniz Güven, discuss how challenger banks are challenging the status quo and their vision for the future.

Among some of the most prominent speakers lined up for the event are:

  • Mahesh Bhalerao, Global Director, Partnerships, Google
  • Winston Ma, High-Tech Investor, Digital Economy Author, China-US cross-border lawyer, NYU Adjunct Professor on SWF funds
  • Ciaran Martin, Founding CEO of the National Cyber Security Centre and Professor, University of Oxford
  • Simon Hayward, Author, The Agile Leader
  • Anthony Thomson, Founder and former Chairman of Metro Bank and Atom Bank, Co-founder and Chairman of Bank 86400
  • Mohamed Al Maraj, CEO, ila Bank – Bahrain
  • Robert Bell, CEO of Bank 86400
  • Deniz Güven, CEO of Mox, Standard Chartered’s new digital bank

The MEA Fintech Forum underlines Bank ABC’s commitment to Bahrain and the region and supports Bahrain’s vision to become a leading FinTech hub. More regional banks, financial institutions, big tech and leading consultancies are expected to take part in the Forum this year. Bank ABC Group including the digital, mobile-only bank, ila and digital payments provider AFS, are engaged in the development of new FinTech-led financial services and global ecosystems.

Bank ABC is a leading player in the MENA region’s banking industry and provides global innovative Wholesale Banking coverage and products that include Corporate and Financial Institutions coverage, Transaction Banking (Trade Finance and Cash Management), Project and Structured finance, Syndications, Treasury and Financial Markets products and Islamic Banking. It also provides retail banking services through its network of retail banks in Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria and in Bahrain through the digital mobile-only bank ila.