Digesting the Digits – The Middle East ramps up fintech influence

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Number crunching is a key component of the payment industry, with digits scattered across the sector’s key stories. 

Each week, Payment Expert digests these digits and brings an overview of the past payments week in numbers. This edition puts the focus on the Middle East as the region increases its influence on the fintech sector.

UnaFinancial looks for $15m investment to expand into the UAE 

After successfully securing initial funding for a new app that will help the firm strengthen its footprint in the UAE, UnaFinancial has now launched the second phase of its strategy by seeking to attract $15m more in investment. 

With the UAE experiencing a 55% growth rate in finance app instalments, the company’s new app will serve as an investment platform for clients looking to expand their investment portfolio, as well as offering additional digital wallet and credit services. 

Open Banking in the Middle East set for 25% annual growth 

This was suggested by the Arab Monetary Fund (AMF), which recently released its guidelines on the tech’s adoption and clarified that if met, the recommendations will lead to an influx in Open Banking’s growth in Arab countries over a five-year period.

The guidelines for an effective Open Banking framework were drafted in collaboration with the Central Banks of Jordan, the UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Oman, Palestine, Kuwait, Egypt, and Morocco. 

Fed fines Metropolitan Bank with $14.5m over customer ID shortcomings

The US Federal Reserve Board (FRB) has issued the fine in connection to the bank’s third-party risk management, which the watchdog labelled as ‘deficient’ when it comes to prepaid card issuing. 

According to the indictment, Metropolitan Bank has allowed bad actors to ‘illegally obtain state unemployment insurance benefits’ in direct violation of the Bank Secrecy Act. 

82% of SMBs are considering the adoption of embedded finance

A new report by Airwallex has highlighted that the majority of SMBs are looking into cloud-based financial services to replace traditional banks. 

The firm has pointed out that 82% of all surveyed SMBs are looking into unlocking new revenue streams by adopting embedded financial services, most notably when it comes to moving money internationally. 

Shannon Scott, SVP, Global Head of Product at Airwallex, said: “The opportunities are huge, but untapped, for software providers to better serve customers with tailored offerings while unlocking new revenue streams for themselves.”

Klarna launches BNPL offering for Irish Airbnb bookings between €35 and €1,500

People looking for temporary accommodation through Airbnb in Ireland can now book one with the added option for instalment payments thanks to Klarna. 

Offering an interest-free instalment plan spread across two months, the ‘Pay Over Time’ feature is also scheduled for launch in more than 20 countries. 

Colin Creagh, Head of Klarna, Ireland, said: “Airbnb tells us that one of the top requests from their guests is more ways to pay for their stays. We’re thrilled to bring Klarna’s flexible payment options to Airbnb guests around the globe.”