PLANNING A DIGITAL FUTURE
Gulf Business|May 2021
Digitisation has transformed the way industries operate, with businesses now required to innovate constantly. For Mountasser Hachem, CEO and founder of Monty Holding, the leap has been about seeking opportunities in fi ntech with ambitious plans to launch the “world’s largest digital bank”
AARTI NAGRAJ
If there has been one word that has now become a cliché for discussing the economy during the Covid-19 pandemic, it is arguably ‘digitisation’. The crisis forced companies to innovate and accelerated digital transformation plans. Every sector has had to adapt to changing consumer demands while also ensuring cost efficiencies.

“Digital transition has been the main focus during this past year and will remain a focal point for many industries and businesses in the future,” says Mountasser Hachem, CEO and founder of Monty Holding – the parent company of regional telecoms solutions provider Monty Mobile.

“It helped organisations overcome most of the challenges – not just those set by the pandemic. Without this major development, many companies and even industries would have experienced a distressed period. But the challenge resides in the ability to not just develop digitisation to meet current demands and improve services, but to also keep up with new future trends,” he elaborates.

It is to tap into the future that Hachem has now diversified his business by entering into the fintech space – an industry that is set to take off in the region. According to consultancy PwC, although smartphone penetration is at 96 per cent in the GCC region – well above the global average of 58 per cent, fintech has not developed at a similar pace. However, that is rapidly changing, driven by evolving consumer preferences.

A survey of more than 1,000 respondents in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt by PwC last year found that 53 per cent had used smartphone payments for online deliveries during the pandemic. More than 90 per cent of those respondents also stated that they would continue using smartphone payments even after the crisis had subsided.

“Regional governments have understood the scope for rapid fintech growth and have sought to introduce regulations to facilitate market development,” says PwC. In Saudi Arabia, for instance, the Financial Sector Development Program (FSDP) is spearheading the move towards a cashless society by targeting 70 per cent of transactions to be cashless by 2030.

“Entering the world of fintech was not an easy decision nor an easy implementation. However, this step was much needed to cope with current global demands and trends. This line of business will offer us new challenges in terms of new products and services to forge, and, at the same time, it will open new opportunities for Monty Holding,” explains Hachem.

The company has set up Monty Capital, a Swiss financial institution based in Geneva through an acquisition, as part of wider plans to establish and launch its own global neo digital bank, My Monty.

“There is now a clear demand for banking processes based on a simple and straightforward approach with consumers moving towards digital banking services to perform a lot of their daily needs. Many tools are offering features that were not doable through traditional banking methods. The evolution in fintech technology is expected to further trigger the growing demand for such services,” states Hachem.

“The ability to perform banking services anywhere on the planet is what My Monty is targeting. Our new services will strengthen our presence and reach new regions in the emerging markets. Our new fintech products will incorporate many banking and financial services that go beyond the need for any traditional bank access. From payment gateways and financial advisory services, to digital and core banking as well as direct carrier billing, our fintech solution will enable us to target and offer financial inclusion to many unbanked regions with over one billion residents who have no access to traditional banking services, thus fulfilling our main purpose and mission.”

Some of the services that My Monty will offer include allowing customers to open a paperless account without a minimum amount; physical and virtual “any currency” payment cards; online banking services; money transfer and remittances; bill payments and nano lending.

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