Can you tell me about Tarabut Gateway?
Tarabut Gateway was launched in 2017 and I have led the company since inception. We are grateful to be the first graduates from the Central Bank of Bahrain’s pioneering sandbox program and have spearheaded MENA’s Open Banking movement ever since.
Our mission is to provide enabling Open Banking infrastructure for the entire region; growing an Open Banking ecosystem to benefit customers, start-ups and legacy financial institutions. We foster transformation of the sector, providing financial players with the tools to leapfrog development in other world regions.
The Middle East’s financial services industry is still implementing many of the personalized services that new technologies and regulation make possible. Tarabut Gateway is at the forefront of filling these gaps, offering Open Banking APIs via which personalised financial services can be created and distributed. Our platform provides connectivity for data to flow between banks & fintechs, enabling collaboration and accelerated innovation, better products, services & experiences for consumers.
We were granted an Open Banking licence by the Dubai Financial Services Authority last month, making Tarabut Gateway the first regulated Open Banking service provider in the UAE. Additionally, Tarabut Gateway is licensed by the Central Bank of Bahrain as an Account Information Service Provider and Payment Initiation Service Provider (AISP/PISP). Working closely with regulators, we aim to accelerate growth and unlock financial inclusion across our core MENA markets.
The company was ranked as one of MENA’s most well-funded fintech startups. Our investors include some of the leading international and regional VC funds.
What are your roles and responsibilities at the company?
As CEO, I oversee the entire company’s activities - building a scalable business model to fulfil the region’s Open Banking needs and encouraging the transformation of financial services.
I am fully focused on rapid, organic, sustainable growth and work closely with our leadership team to expand our service offering into more markets. Core to this strategy is hiring the very best international talent, liaising closely with regulators in our priority markets, building partnerships and collaboration with banks and Fintechs in the region, and growing the entire ecosystem.
As a platform connecting service providers and customers, Tarabut Gateway sits at the centre of all exciting developments in the Fintech space.
Having recently received the first regulatory licence for an Open Banking entity in the UAE, what does this mean for the company?
Being acknowledged by the DFSA as an Open Banking service provider was a very important milestone for Tarabut Gateway.
At a local level, and as a licensed Account Information Service (AIS) and Payment Initiative Service (PIS) provider, Tarabut Gateway will support UAE Fintechs and banks in improving the financial wellbeing of their customers by developing new products. It is a win-win for both as we are helping them build the financial services of tomorrow.
Operating from our newly-opened office in the Dubai International Financial Center, we will also help to build the overall ecosystem, creating synergies between all the different players.
As the first Open Banking company to be licensed in MENA, we will also work very closely with regional regulators to evolve standards contributing to simplicity and safety for end consumers. These are essential conditions to encourage Open Banking adoption in the region.
How important is technology to the development of the finance industry?
The current technology revolution will fundamentally change financial services. Brand new use cases will penetrate the market and positively impact institutions and consumers.
Innovation will supercharge cooperation between banks and Fintechs, and integrate end users - i.e. customers - who will be the ultimate beneficiaries of Open Banking. Customers will have sovereignty returned and own their data. They will be able to decide what data to share, and with who, and for how long.
Via this greater access to their financials, end users will be able to make secure and swift payments, manage multiple accounts such as deposit accounts, credit cards, and loans, and do this via one preferred platform of their choice.
The new technology will help banks build new revenue streams, deliver timely and valuable services to customers, increase acquisition and retention rates, and enhance the overall customer experience.
Fintechs can access Open Banking APIs to help test their products and solutions. This will support their growth and provide the opportunity to serve wider audiences. They can also collaborate with banks to develop new products and services, which can brought to market much faster.
Overall, technology will yield more competitive products and services in the market. This will help raise industry standards and practices, and make the finance industry more inclusive and equitable.
What do you see as the biggest fintech trend this year?
Innovation means there are many cutting-edge Fintech trends. Some of the most influential are ‘buy now, pay later’ (BNPL) & ‘save now, pay later’ (SNPL), Open Banking, personalised financial management, and multi-use digital wallets for cryptocurrencies, NFTs and other use cases.
The major trend permeating all these examples is increased multilateral collaboration. Open Banking functions as infrastructure, creating relationships and collaboration between all the players: traditional banks, financial institutions, Fintechs, merchants and the end customer. New business models can be explored, products and channels of distribution created, all creating value for consumers and revenue for corporates.
Tarabut Gateway sits at the junction of all these exciting spaces, working together with Fintechs and banks to enable seamless customer experiences.
We envisage cross-sector collaborations into telecommunications, insurance, utilities, transportation and health being the next step for Open Banking. This goes beyond the banking sector to utilise an ‘Open Finance’ data-sharing model.
What can we expect from Tarabut Gateway in 2022?
We will remain at the very heart of MENA’s financial services expansion, with further regional expansion very close. We look forward to being able to talk about this publicly.
Formal recognition by the Dubai Financial Services Authority as Open Banking service provider was a major milestone for Tarabut Gateway. Consequently, we will be able to rapidly enlarge our network of banks and Fintechs, all of which will help us to collaborate and deliver solutions via Open Banking.
Development of use cases, to be built on top of our platform, will also dominate our strategic development. Account Information Services (AIS) and Payment Initiatives Services (PIS) are the two Open banking products of immediate dominance. We look forward to more exciting developments.
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