Dubai's GITEX Technology Week to tackle questions about future of banking, financial markets

With big financial changes on the horizon, financial experts are looking very closely at how new technologies will affect traditional banking systems.

With that in mind, local teams in Dubai are working to prepare for the 2016 GITEX (Gulf Information Technology Exhibition) Technology Week, the biggest technology convention of its kind in the Middle East and Africa, to be held Oct. 16-20 at the Dubai World Trade Center.   

For five days, this innovative exchange will attract over 150,000 visitors in business and finance fields as well as government offices and give experts in the region an opportunity to focus on emerging issues.

One of those emerging issues is the rise in digital payment technologies. As prominent people like James Barrese, former chief technology officer of PayPal, and Andres Wolberg-Stok, global head of emerging platforms and services at Citi, visit the convention in the fall, many attendees will be talking about the increasing relevance of such technologies as Bitcoin and Blockchain and the state of technology-enabled banking and finance.

A July 13 press release detailing the upcoming conference estimates that by 2020, technology-enabled solutions will drive $2 trillion in global payments. Experts cite platforms such as PayPal as new competitors of traditional banks.

"Banks, startups and non-banking players are disrupting the global banking and finance industry with mobile apps, immersive technology and non-traditional payments.” Barrese said in a press statement. “Emerging markets like the Middle East have the drive for innovation and opportunity to build next-gen infrastructure, enabling them to become global leaders in the digital payments revolution while providing a lifeline for billions of under-banked people."

What this competition is going to look like and what banks can do to survive are hot topics.

“Things change,” Gary Patterson, a CPA with 30 years of senior management experience who runs FiscalDoctor, a business management consulting firm offering business coaching and seminars, told the Gulf News Journal on Wednesday. “You can either move with the flow and disrupt yourself – or get disrupted.”

As digital advances upend all sorts or industries, Patterson said, it’s important to act quickly.

“There is a point where you have to bet on technology,” Patterson said. “It becomes such a huge decision that you can’t bet wrong.”

Patterson takes the example of Blockbuster and their ultimate demise.

“They had great locations,” Patterson said, “but the locations became expensive. They made incremental changes … they played it safe.”

As for the banks, Patterson said they have enormous resources that they can marshal to try to stave off the cratering of their market share due to the entrepreneurs at the gates.

“They have huge advantages.” Patterson said. “They've got tremendous resources - what they don't have is an entrepreneurial mindset.”



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