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Has MENA’s fintech sector reached its saturation point? Experts reveal

Fintechs are discovering these niche markets with better products and doing it more quickly

Industry experts have challenged the idea that the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region’s fintech business needs to be more saturated while criticising traditional financial systems for failing to cater to consumer requirements.

“While there may be saturation brought on by overpopulation in one particular sector, the area is a goldmine on a macro level,” Nameer Khan, Chairman and Founder of the MENA Fintech Association told Zawya. The official added, “I said this five years ago, and I say it now.”

During a panel discussion at the just-finished Step Conference 2023 in Dubai, Nameer Khan remarked that the ecosystem in the MENA region is still in its infancy even though the Far East and some Western markets may have reached their saturation points.

The United Arab Emirates alone is home to 600 of the region’s 700+ Fintechs, according to Nameer Khan. In addition, according to the numbers, USD 800 billion was invested in the [sector] in the first half of 2022 alone, showing a strong desire for investment that attracts venture capitalists.

In the United Arab Emirates, Saad Ansari, co-founder and CEO of Xpence, an intelligent company spending management platform, noted that less than 5% of this region’s USD 1.2 trillion SME market received funding.

“From their point of view, the Fintech market still has a ways to go. On the consumer side, though,” he said, while adding that several P2P sharing apps and digital wallets might be approaching their saturation points.

The social finance platform Xare’s CEO and co-founder, Padmini Gupta, blamed the development of Fintech solutions on traditional banking systems.

“I will argue that fintech genuinely attempts to meet customer requirements since banking is oversaturated. You must satisfy market demands to the extent that consumers benefit. Right now, I don’t see that happening. And Fintechs are discovering these niche markets with better products and doing it more quickly,” the official remarked.

The Fintech sector in this area still has plenty of room to expand exponentially, according to Sonia Gokhale, founding partner of VentureSouq, a venture capital firm based in the MENA and investing in tech firms.

“In 2020, we were asked whether there were enough Fintechs in this region, and there was such hype around the sector that gave the appearance that we had hit [a] peak,” she remarked.

“But, the road is long, with many more milestones to reach along the way,” Sonia Gokhale concluded.

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