What key trends are driving banking in the Middle East?

PwC finance experts hosted a three-day leadership event to discuss key trends that will shape the region’s banking ecosystem. Find out what they believe

Sometimes it’s difficult to look behind the headlines as a CEO when you are constantly bombarded by the same keywords and messaging. Like ‘digital transformation’ and ‘disruption’. It all feels so very, well, pandemic.

Looking to move the needle on the conversation, PwC Middle East hosted its inaugural Financial Services Horizons – Annual GCC Leadership Meet (not the catchiest of titles) with guest keynote speaker Brett King, the Australian futurist and best-selling author. 

King is also co-founder of Moven, described as the ‘bank of the future’ by the likes of the New York Times. Moven’s app, debit card, and savings tools help consumers make smarter financial decisions.

The event focused on the transformation taking place in financial services, the importance of customer integration, evolution of payments and digital wallets, and challenges created by the rapid growth in digitalisation.

Workforce of the future central to banking industry

In the keynote with King, Mehryar Ghazali, Financial Services Leader at PwC Middle East, explored what changes needed to be made to financial organisations in the Middle East. Key topics included building the workforce of the future, what skills they would require, sourcing talent, building culture, and embracing risk.

Here are four key takeaways: 


The one area that is likely to continue to be a growth constraint for financial services in the region is the regulatory structure around cloud services and data sovereignty – something previously highlighted in Business Chief.

Rise of experiential banking

To move away from a transactional banking mindset to one focused on customer experience (CX), banks should focus on operational efficiency, customer data and use AI extensively.

Digital financial inclusion

Digital financial services have driven the adoption of banking in the Middle East. For the remaining unbanked, mobile wallets and digital payment cards offer great potential.

The fintech boom

The MENA region is fast building its fintech sector, with hubs emerging in cities like Dubai. GCC countries have embraced the opportunity and the region could become a global hub for fintech.

“The Middle East region has advanced exponentially in the financial technological ecosystem mirrored with our focus on investing in strategic partnerships, emerging technologies and our people to help solve our client’s biggest problems,” said Ghazali.

“We firmly believe that the future of the industry is heading towards a brighter path, one filled with innovation and inclusion.”

Dr. Sandeep Srivastava, Financial Services Consulting Lead at PwC Middle East commented on how the region has transformed its banking ecosystem.

“It's going to be really fascinating to see how the region will develop its digital banking capabilities in the years to come,” added Srivastava.


Featured Articles

Top 10 most innovative telecom operators in the Middle East

With Dubai-based Telecoms World Middle East in full swing, we chart the most innovative telcos from the region – and look at how they are transforming

Top 10 fastest-growing Indian companies in the UK

Business Chief takes a look at the top 10 fastest-growing Indian companies in the UK, according to the India Meets Britain Tracker from Grant Thornton

Top 10 workplaces prioritising people and planet in the UAE

Sustainable, flexible, collaborative, tech-driven, and amenities-rich, the office of the future considers both people and planet – here are 10 in the UAE

Top 10 female HR execs leading Saudi’s workplace transition

Leadership & Strategy

Top 10 largest asset managers by AUM operating in the UAE

Corporate Finance

Top 10 female CEOs leading Africa’s biggest businesses

Leadership & Strategy