GCC BANKERS GEAR UP TO DISCUSS THE FUTURE OF BANKING TECHNOLOGY IN DUBAI

Keynote speech in progress at the Middle East Banking Innovation Summit 2014

Keynote speech in progress at the Middle East Banking Innovation Summit 2014

Dubai, August 31, 2015: Over 450 GCC bankers will come together next month at one of the region’s largest banking technology and innovation event – the 5th Annual Middle East Banking Innovation Summit, that will take place on 14th and 15th September 2015 at Sofitel, The Palm Resort & Spa, Dubai. Banking is one of the fastest growing industries in the Middle East. With innovation as the focal point, banks are reinventing themselves and investing heavily in technology to deliver new-age banking solutions to consumers. The region’s banking and financial services sector is well poised for an overhaul. With over 40 sponsors and more than 30 top local and international industry experts providing insights into the banking innovation sector, this Summit will be even bigger than the previous years.

Talking about the partnership, Mr. Marcello Baricordi, General Manager UAE and Global Accounts Lead at VISA Inc. MENA, said: “Innovation is what keeps industries thriving, which is why events like the Middle East Banking Innovation Summit are vital for our sectors and their evolution. In a time when cities are getting smarter and the population becomes more technologically adept, banks and payment providers must stay updated on digital trends and developments in order to achieve success. Visa’s participation in this event shows our commitment to our financial partners and dedication to delivering secure payments built on cutting-edge technology.”

The summit will feature more than 20 keynote sessions and panel discussions on pressing issues and trends pertaining to the banking technology domain globally as well as in the Middle East, and will involve experts Gary Collins, Head – Mobile Banking, Westpac Pacific; Marcello Baricordi, General Manager UAE & Global Accounts Lead, Visa; Paolo Barbesino, Senior VP, Head of Digital – CEE Retail, UniCredit Bank Austria AG; Kartik Taneja, Global Head – Credit Cards, Standard Chartered Bank, Singapore; Warren Cammack, Head of Innovation, Vietnam International Bank and Pedro Cardoso, Head of Multichannel and CRM, Emirates NBD amongst many others. Moreover, a powerful line up of speakers from local banks including Noor Bank, Commercial Bank of Dubai, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, National Bank of Abu Dhabi, First Gulf Bank will dive deeply into topics to share best practices and lessons-learned.

This summit agenda will cover forward-thinking topics that have been tailored to the interests of the participants and are pertinent to the region. Ranging from payments and innovation in developing markets to capitalizing on the social media revolution; from the future of cashless transactions in the Middle East to transforming compliance burdens into business benefits, the summit will offer attendees a wholesome view of the banking industry.

Emphasizing on the scale and magnitude of the summit, Mr. Brad Hariharan, Regional Director, Expotrade Middle East, said, “Our Middle East Banking Innovation summit is one of the most popular events in this region. The previous four editions of the summit received a tremendous feedback from our sponsors and participants and this year the event has been planned on a much bigger scale. The summit promises to deliver high business value and provide actionable insights. With the quality and the number of participants partaking in the summit, we are extremely confident of it becoming a resounding success this year as well.”

The premium sponsoring companies such as Visa, Schneider Electric, IBM, Sestek, Oberthur Technologies, IMTF, CSC, Backbase, InfrasoftTech, Comarch, Entera, intellect, Collinson group, Cryptomathic, Appello will showcase some exciting solutions at the Innovation Lounge. Additionally, experts from these organizations will engage in a 20-minute session to share lessons learned that will help propel the industry forward.

Included within the Summit’s delegation list are over 450 representatives from leading banks in the Middle East region, such as Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Dubai Islamic Bank, HSBC Bank Middle East, Union National Bank, Mashreq Bank, Emirates NBD, ICICI Bank, First Gulf Bank, Deutsche Bank, RAK Bank, Commercial Bank of Dubai, Barclays Bank and Doha Bank, to name a few.

The 5th annual Middle East Banking Innovation Summit spread over the course of two days provides a gamut of opportunities for speakers and delegates to connect in an interactive manner, engage in cross learning and discuss business opportunities and challenges.

More information about the summit can be found on the event website at http://www.bankinnovation-me.com/

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How are Banks in the UAE responding to Cyber-Attacks?

Panel discussion in progress at the Middle East Banking Innovation Summit 2014

Panel discussion in progress at the Middle East Banking Innovation Summit 2014

Here in the UAE alone, with a population of just about 10 million people, we already have 23 local and 28 foreign (international) banks operating in the country and the banking industry does get really competitive. The country as a whole is often seen as ‘overbanked’ and as one would imagine – having over 50 banks that in turn have a network of around 1,200 branches, ought to be enough to service the most discerning customers. But according to a study conducted earlier this year (the first Brave Index), customer service standards overall at banks are still below the global service delivery benchmarks and work is being done to ensure that there is steady improvement.

Innovation is key when it comes to the world of banking and in a bid to offer consumers an enriching experience; UAE banks are adopting new strategies to introduce tailored products and services. In fact, just a couple of days ago the Commercial Bank of Dubai has offered its customers a mobile application that allows their ‘fitness-conscious customers’ to earn higher interest rates on their savings based on the number of steps taken in a day calculated by their Fitbit or Jawbone fitness devices.

Technology really has spurred a massive growth of services offered by banks in the UAE which are really convenient to use and while we have Apple Pay or the recently launched Samsung Pay – the Emirates National Bank of Dubai (ENBD) became the front-runner last year with their launch of mobile money transfer via the ‘mePay’ app.

At the moment in the UAE, online banking is still the most dominant approach when it comes to companies trying to manage their accounts or even individuals trying to pay their utility bills but the penetration of mobile internet in the UAE and the fact that telecom operators like Etisalat and Du have made it more affordable for users to take up packages that include mobile data has increased the popularity of mobile applications and paved the way for mobile banking in the country.

While there has been a tremendous growth in the adoption of technology by the banking and financial services sector – the growth is intrinsically linked with major concerns and threats of cybercrime. According to the UAE’s National Electronic Security Authority (NESA), cyber security is one of the biggest economic and national security challenges facing countries worldwide in the 21st century. The most common cyber security threats that we have seen in the UAE include phishing emails, spyware, data theft, web application exploits and website defacement which has prompted the government to put plans in action to stop these hackers from reaching our electronic borders.

The threats of cyber-attacks are very real and just last month, several banks in the UAE were hit by a coordinated cyber attack, which severely affected online operations and left some of us in the UAE with fraudulent transactions on our credit cards and bank accounts which took a while to get corrected. In recent years, we have seen a significant increase in the number of online security breaches in the Middle East and cyber-attacks are becoming more sophisticated – rightly so, a new research indicates that banks and securities companies in the Middle East are posed to spend USD 12.9 billion on upgrading their IT products, services and infrastructure.

For the banking sector in the UAE, risks associated with cyber security have not allowed for complete adoption of the technology available globally and this in turn means that local banks have been unable to reach their full potential yet. Instead, an industry report indicates that banks are investing heavily to build their defenses and bolster their IT infrastructure to prevent unprecedented cyber attacks. The report also highlights a future growth rate of 17% for the IT Security Services industry in the UAE with an overall value of AED 1.7 billion (USD 473 million) in 2018 alone.

In order to actively combat cyber-crime and cyber-attacks in the banking industry, it is important for the industry to gather and discuss pertinent issues so that best practices and experiences can be shared. And in the next three weeks, Dubai will once again host the 5th Annual Middle East Banking Innovation Summit on the 14th & 15th of September 2015 at Sofitel The Palm Resort & Spa. This will be an ideal opportunity for industry professionals to listen to experts and to check out the latest technology offerings for the industry setup as part of the ‘Banking Innovation Lounge’ at the event.

Feel free to follow the link and find more information about the event and view the conference agenda – http://www.bankinnovation-me.com/

– Brad Hariharan, Regional Director, Expotrade Middle East

Qatar Transitioning To Smart Meters

Keynote speech in progress at Solar Qatar Summit 2014

Doha, Qatar, August 11, 2015: In an endeavor to offer better energy management solutions to consumers, Qatar General Electricity & Water Corporation (KAHRAMAA) has leveraged the collaborative understanding of Information Technology and the power sector to launch its smart meter project. With decisive implementation plans to make the country a pioneer in smart energy management, KAHRAMAA intends to cover the complete geographical rollout of the smart meter project across the city by 2016. Smart meter deployment provides real-time information on the energy, water or natural gas consumption of a building or home.

The country’s steady movement towards an overall smart energy approach is supported by the installation of smart grid projects and its related technologies such as smart meter that benefits consumers and energy providers in ways more than one. Additionally, it enables KAHRAMAA to optimize energy consumption and promote energy efficiency.

“By adding the intelligence of IT to power distribution, KAHRAMAA aims to attain sustainable development and significantly improve the power infrastructure in the country. Encompassing a broad portfolio of technologies, smart grids ensure optimized usage of energy usage and support increased penetration of renewable energy. With the state of Qatar witnessing rapid growth in the power sector, the government has undertaken massive initiatives to achieve its noble vision of attaining a significant increase in renewables and energy efficiency,” opined, Mr. Brad Hariharan, Regional Director, Expotrade Middle East.

In the Middle East, the rate of adoption of smart metering has been on a steady growth trajectory and this demand will continue to increase exponentially in the coming years. Government-led initiatives and introduction of regulatory frameworks coupled with the adoption of latest technology in the utilities segment have driven the deployment of smart grids and smart meters in the region. Large international private players have played a crucial role in developing end-to-end solutions to build a smart energy infrastructure in the GCC region.

Installing a smart meter helps keep a check on power distribution, monitors consumer usage and communicates revenue unit of energy data in real-time between any two-distribution points. According to an industry study, smart metering market will reach 16.1 million units by 2022 and 86% of homes and businesses in the Gulf countries are expected to have smart meters by the same year.

The opportunities of smart metering and its efficacy will be discussed at the Power Qatar Summit 2015, incorporating the highly successful Solar Qatar Summit, on 26-27 October 2015 at The Ritz Carlton, Doha, Qatar.

For more event details, please log on to http://www.powerqatar.com/

Abu Dhabi Municipality’s Sustainable Lighting Strategy At The Forefront Of The 4th Annual Middle East Smart Lighting And Energy Summit 2015

Martin Valentine, Lighting Expert, Abu Dhabi City Municipality

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, August 3, 2015: In the Middle East, Abu Dhabi has been at the forefront in using sustainable lighting solutions. Apart from witnessing a sharp increase in power saving, it has also played an indispensable role in increasing the beauty quotient to the city. As part of the city’s lighting strategy, the Abu Dhabi Municipality (ADM) recently implemented its sustainable lighting project that offers multi-pronged benefits, including a drastic reduction in overall costs by 40% – 80% over 20 years, curbing carbon dioxide emission by 75% and reducing power consumption by at least 60%.

The ADM lighting strategy is spearheaded by Mr. Martin Valentine, Lighting Expert, Abu Dhabi City Municipality, who will be in the spotlight at the 4th Annual Middle East Smart Lighting and Energy Summit 2015 elaborating upon Abu Dhabi Municipality’s existing and future lighting strategy.

  1. What has been the impact of the street lighting strategy undertaken by Abu Dhabi Municipality?

Dramatic in various ways! On the ground since we have implemented the strategy via statutory policy documents, all projects have been designed, approved and installed in line with the strategy’s criteria. So we have growing examples of installations being felt and experienced by the public and recorded by the municipalities and the results have exceeded expectations. Further afield we have also seen how our strategy has been adopted or adapted by many other countries in the region and this is a testament to the work undertaken by Abu Dhabi.

  1. Having attained regional and global recognition for its achievements in the field of smart and sustainable lighting, what is the future of intelligent lighting for the city of Abu Dhabi?

Well for me smart or intelligent lighting is a term best used to describe the process of correct design and specification of lighting. Get that wrong and no amount of controls or added layers can make any difference. The recognition we have received has been purely on the lighting decisions we have made for correct design, specification and application. But get this right and then added layers of benefit can indeed be achieved to meet the needs of a client. We will introduce lighting management and dimming in the future as part of the approved steps for the lighting strategy, but this will be done to meet our needs for control, asset management, maintenance and investment in coordination with our various internal departments and other stakeholders.

  1. With governments across the globe investing in smart cities infrastructure, do you think that has boosted the adoption of smart city lighting projects?

What are smart city lighting projects exactly? Find me two people in the industry that can define this phrase in the same way technically with regards to lighting and perhaps I can answer. Currently there is too much spin and confusion arising from trendy generic terms such as this and I prefer to cut through the hype and define things from a client’s perspective: What do we want, what don’t we need, is it failsafe and robust, what are the true benefits to us financially and socially, how much does it cost, when can we achieve payback? If anything doesn’t address these key issues it can’t be a very smart decision can it?

  1. Keeping Abu Dhabi Municipality as a benchmark, what measures do you think other governments need to undertake to create demand in the lighting sector?

Depends for what part of the lighting sector one wants to create demand. If governments (and/or their appointed consultants) don’t consider the qualitative, human health and long-term performance issues with lighting, than purely cost-based tendering will stimulate only those within the industry producing products to compete on output and cost alone. Of which there are plenty, and there will always be someone new with something cheaper to offer.

Many appear to have gone down this road and I am alarmed at the increasing number of press reports over awful retrofitting, with complaints regarding glare, colour and distribution issues. Governments need to balance the economic against social, environmental and performance aspects to create demand in the industry only for those companies ready and able to meet these needs with their products or consultant services. If there one key aspect of the Abu Dhabi Sustainable Lighting Strategy to benchmark it is this key message rather than focusing on the decision to implement LEDs, controls or lower lighting levels alone.

  1. What will be the focus of your session at the Middle East Smart Lighting and Energy Summit?

This year brings some significant changes and additions to Abu Dhabi’s lighting standards which are leading toward the issue of revised and expanded Lighting Specifications for the Emirate. I will present the key aspects of these changes at the event. We will be pushing true sustainability and quality even further than before and demanding improved lighting design requirements for every single aspect. More assistance and standardization for this will be provided in the standards too, where it has proven to be required. There will be some dramatic changes and new requirements being announced, I can tell you now!

The Middle East Smart Lighting and Energy Summit 2015, in its fourth year now, has evolved into a unique collaborative knowledge-sharing platform and has set the benchmark in the lighting industry across the Middle East. Mr. Martin Valentine, Lighting expert, Abu Dhabi Municipality, will be a keynote speaker at this year’s edition of the Middle East Smart Lighting and Energy Summit 2015 that will be held on 23-24 November 2015 at Jumeirah at Etihad Towers, Abu Dhabi.

To know more, visit http://lightingsummit.com/ for event details.