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Open Banking in the Middle East: Time is of the Essence

In the dynamic Middle East landscape, open banking emerges as a transformative force driven by digitalisation and a young, tech-savvy population. Seamless data sharing and collaboration promises innovation, efficiency, and financial inclusion.

Open Banking in the Middle East: Time is of the Essence

Open Banking allows customers to share their financial data with non-bank third parties through platforms, granting them access to various innovative banking products and services. The Middle East, including countries like Saudi Arabia and the UAE, is witnessing significant regulatory developments enhancing Open Banking adoption. Improved infrastructure, high internet adoption rates, and the acceleration of digitalisation due to the COVID-19 pandemic are additional factors driving the need for Open Banking implementation in the region.

Banks in Saudi Arabia and the UAE should embrace a platform-based approach to succeed in the Open Banking landscape. By adopting a platform mentality, banks can connect people, processes, and assets supported by a robust technology infrastructure. Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) facilitate direct connections between customer bank accounts and a range of interconnected services offered by banks and third parties. APIs enable revenue generation and pave the way for enhanced customer experiences, personalised finance recommendations, and fraud prevention measures.

Open Banking offers several opportunities for banks in the Middle East. Seamless Know-Your-Customer (KYC) processes, cross-bank account linking, and the generation of personalised finance recommendations are among the many use cases being explored. Furthermore, Open Banking can revolutionise the payment landscape by introducing real-time payments, improving customer-facing services, and facilitating request-to-pay (RTP) services. The progress in implementing payment rails in countries like Saudi Arabia and the UAE highlights their commitment to embracing Open Banking.

Banks in the Middle East have two choices when embarking on their Open Banking journey: creating their ecosystem or joining an existing one. Both options have their benefits and drawbacks. Banks can leverage off-the-shelf options or invest in developer portals and partnerships to advance the API and Third-Party Provider (TPP) spaces. Regulators also play a vital role in Open Banking, working with the industry to guide the development of APIs, set standards, and establish registration and licensing processes for TPPs.

Open Banking has gained momentum globally and is now primed for rapid growth in the Middle East. Enabled by robust security measures, centralised infrastructure, and stringent regulatory oversight, Open Banking offers immense potential for banks, customers, government agencies, and third parties. The Middle East's high internet and mobile phone penetration rates and the region's focus on digitalisation set the stage for an integrated future in Open Banking.

Time is indeed of the essence for banks in the Middle East to embrace Open Banking. The opportunities for innovation, enhanced customer experiences, and revenue generation are immense. By adopting a platform-based approach, leveraging APIs, and collaborating with regulators and industry players, banks in the Middle East can position themselves as leaders in the Open Banking landscape, ensuring both their relevance and success in the evolving financial services industry.

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