Fintech was one of the main topics discussed at the 12th Telecom Review Leaders’ Summit and a panel of leading industry experts tackled the evolution of the financial sector and how technology revolutionized payment methods. Elie Nasr, Managing partner, FOO who took part in this panel, spoke onsite to Telecom Review. He explained why FOO is a one-of-a-kind company in Lebanon and shared his insights on the Fintech market in the MENA region.
FOO is a leading player in the region and worldwide. What are the areas you mainly focus on?
We started back in 2009 with a focus on mobile applications created for feature phones. The company evolved and in 2016, we shifted to Fintech and became a B2B player in this field with products we export to the region and worldwide.
Our business mainly revolves around wallets, payments and digital banking platforms. We’re known for being engaged in different innovative projects in the region related to building wallets for governments, in addition to origination systems. We’re also involved in blockchain projects which are confidential. We are keen to monitor the evolution of payments and insure that transactions are fraud free and secure.
Do you consider FOO as a one-of-a-kind company in Lebanon?
We are one of a kind because we’re focused on what we’re doing and on building products that are competitive worldwide. Currently, we’re not facing any direct competition in the market. Some companies tackle certain aspects of our products but they don’t cover the whole offering we have. We are actually competing against international players.
How do you describe the Fintech market in the MENA region?
The Fintech market in the MENA region is evolving at a fast pace but varies in countries depending on the regulatory frameworks and central banks policies. Examples of countries in the region that are advanced in terms of the regulations include Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. The latter is opening its sandbox framework and is inviting all Fintech companies to innovate and present new technologies and ideas.
So, it all depends on the regulatory frameworks and on the maturity of the financial sector in the country itself. However, if we look at Iraq, which is underserved, we can see the great amount of innovation happening there, which quite resembles to the case of Kenya with the M-Pesa experience.
What is happening in the region is very impressive. Every country is evolving according to its financial services’ needs and we are proud of being involved in this revolution.
This is the first time you attend Telecom Review Leaders’ Summit. What is your feedback on the conference?
The Telecom Review Leaders’ Summit tackles not only the telecoms world but different other sectors as well such as Fintech, startups and cybersecurity. I have enjoyed the panel discussions that were happening throughout the day and I look forward to attending future Telecom Review Leaders’ Summits.