Fintech stars on the rise in the Middle East
We caught up with Mohammed Aziz, founder and CEO of Dapi – a financial API interface that acts as the bridge between the latest fintech apps (like Mamopay) to users’ banks accounts ; leveraging open banking by initiating payments and accessing real-time banking data. Aziz talked about his experience in setting up in Abu Dhabi’s Hub71, while shedding light on the fintech industry in the Middle East as a whole. As the world slowly opens up after the pandemic, Dapi is re-energized and re-focused on building the best secure financial applications for banks in countries including Pakistan, Egypt, Kuwait, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, South Africa and the UAE. No stranger to opportunities and pitfalls of the Middle East markets, Aziz shares the benefits of having the majority of his team in Abu Dhabi.
In your opinion, why should fintech startups base themselves in Abu Dhabi and why in particular should they join Hub71?
The synergy that Hub71 brings along with potential partners and ecosystem players – and for fintech in recent times, the collaboration with other financial institutions, has been very beneficial for its startups. Also, the close relationship and access to Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) – a leading international financial centre and one of the most innovative and forward-thinking regulators in the region, is definitely something valuable for startups under Hub71’s platform. Apart from that, is the benefits of housing, insurance and the cost savings that come by with Hub71, especially at a time when there is so much uncertainty – the experience is top-notch!
You have been based in other cities and countries before, what made you move the majority of the team (technical and sales) to Abu Dhabi?
The workspace here is fantastic. I have been to different WeWork locations around the world, and I have to say the WeWork x Hub71 location is exceptional. It is a great place to work out of, and the community that is available for startups, cultivates an environment that people would want to be in.
How was your experience in setting up at Hub71?
The experience has been great, and we have been able to grow our business in the Middle East because of Hub71. It has supported us with the logistical difficulties of operating a startup by providing us with an office space and assistance in relocating our team to Abu Dhabi and provided us a network of other startups who we can learn from through Hub71 events. We also appreciate the conversations that we’re able to have with anyone on the Hub71 team, and their ability to quickly identify our needs and grant us with the benefits that make our day to day requirements easier, from our marketing to accounting needs.
As an entrepreneur and a member of the fintech space, how do you see the future of fintech in the COVID-19 world and why is Hub71 the right place to be at, now that the world is opening up again?
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the digital payments industry globally, and that has made it more evident than ever before that the world can move on without cash. It also made people realize the importance of managing their finances, particularly to survive through difficult and crucial times like these. So, with this realization and digitization there is an opportunity for a lot of innovative fintech startups to rise and flourish. While mature markets, such as the EU and UK, already have established open banking ecosystems, in the UAE we are able to start a new phase in how technology and finance are integrated. The pace of development in this sphere is beginning to pick up and we are very lucky to be in the right place at the right time.
Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) is one the most progressive and flexible regulators for innovative business models and fintech companies. Anyone that is to be licensed by ADGM, under the $700 tech license, needs to have a space to work at; and in my opinion, choosing Hub71 – with all their benefits – is the right decision for the success of any growing business in the Middle East.
Finally, what tip would you give startups who are not just looking to survive but are looking to thrive in the new world?
You have to make sure that you are solving a real and large enough problem that people are facing. Create a product or service that people need, and once you have those two elements – you will be able to rise and flourish amid any crises.
To find out more about Dapi, go to: https://dapi.co/
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