Four firms from the Middle East make KPMG's top 100 fintech list

21 November 2018

Firms from four Middle Eastern nations have made this year’s KMPG Fintech 100 list, with Bahrain, the UAE, Jordan and Israel represented among the world’s top established and emerging financial technology innovators.

KPMG’s annual Fintech100 list, compiled in collaboration with fintech capital investors H2 Ventures, recognises the world’s leading innovators operating in the fintech sector – those companies which are ‘creating products and services at the juncture of technology and financial services who are seeking to disrupt the existing processes and products that dominate the marketplace.’

Now into its fifth edition, Chinese companies again continue to dominate the list, claiming three of the top five places and half of the top dozen – with the world’s largest third-party payments platform and Alibaba spin-off Ant Financial backing up on last year’s top spot. Altogether, a growing number of firms from Asia appeared on the list (30) – yet several countries made an appearance for the first time, including Jordan and the UAE.

Four firms in total from the Middle East made this year’s overall list, with the selection divided evenly between fifty established and fifty emerging fintechs. Down slightly from last year in 32nd on the established fintech subset (from 25th in 2017), is 2012-founded Israeli equity crowdfunding platform OurCrowd – which in the past year surpassed $1 billion in assets under management.KPMG global leading fintechs listFollowing OurCrowd, in third place on the emerging list, is UAE entry Aqeed, an insuretech company providing the region’s first digital insurance platform – allowing customers to both buy their insurance (home, auto, business, travel, life and health) online as well as manage and service it. Launched just this year after an $18 million series A funding round, Aqeed is the first start-up from the UAE to make the KPMG list since its inception, highlighting the growing push to establish the Emirates as a premier global fintech hub.

Also as a first-time country-representative on the list, is Jordan’s Liwwa Inc in the emerging category. Founded by Ahmed Moorin and Samer Atiani in 2013, Liwwa is the MENA region’s first peer-to-peer lending platform connecting small and medium enterprises with investors – having helped businesses raise nearly $15 million in capital through 383 loans in just the past few years.

The last of the Middle Eastern companies named on the KPMG list is Bahrain-based global business-to-business online payments provider PayTabs, which backed up from a recent 4th placing on Forbes’ Top 100 Start-ups in the Middle East list for 2018. Established in 2014 by Abdulaziz Fahad Aljouf, and since funded to the tune of $20 million, PayTabs is now available in 18 countries throughout the Middle East and Asia, and this year became a founding partner of Bahrain’s Fintech Bay.

Commenting on the report, Jalil Al Aali, Partner and head of financial services at KPMG in Bahrain said, “There have been significant efforts to transform the Kingdom of Bahrain into a fintech hub. The Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) regulatory sandbox is a key example of how the ecosystem in Bahrain is evolving to support adoption of fintech in Bahrain. The recent open banking consultation issued by the CBB will further support Bahrain in positioning itself as a fintech hub."

All up, 36 different countries were represented on this year’s list, with payments-focused companies the most prominent with 34 entries followed by those operating in the lending domain (22) – joined this year by 12 companies in the insuretech segment. Overall, the top 50 firms attracted an aggregated $26 billion in capital during just the past year – up 366 percent on the previous twelve months.

Construction consultancy Drees & Sommer launches innovation hub in Dubai

18 April 2019

The Middle East branch of international construction and real estate consultancy Drees & Sommer has launched a new innovation hub in Dubai

Following the appointment of ex-Ramboll exec Abdulmajid Karanouhas as its Head of Interdisciplinary Design & Innovation earlier this year to spearhead the firm’s R&D drive in the Middle East, the local branch of German-origin construction and real estate consultancy Drees & Sommer has now launched a new innovation hub in Dubai – designed as a collaborative environment to serve both external start-ups and its own employees.

“It has always been part of our corporate culture to promote our own ideas and initiatives,” said Drees & Sommer executive board member Steffen Szeidl. “Increasingly, digital transformation and our clients are calling for completely new and disruptive business models. The Innovation Centre is one of our responses to these challenges. All 3,200 staff members can upload their ideas virtually.”

According to Szeidl, from there, promising concepts and solutions addressing identified market gaps in areas such as planning, construction and operations will be developed, funded and localised for any market which sees the potential. He continues: “Adding the Dubai innovation hub emphasises our status as a global innovation company by being one of the few companies doing R&D in this region.”Construction consultancy Drees & Sommer launches innovation hub in DubaiLocally established in 2003, Drees & Sommer was founded close to 50 years ago in Stuttgart, since growing to include some 40 offices worldwide, with its global headcount of 3,200 professionals generating revenues upwards of $430 million in 2017. The firm’s offerings span the gamut of real estate and infrastructure requirements, delivered according to its ‘blue way’, which takes into account economic, functionality, and ecological aspects together.

This, for Drees & Sommer, is an important point in the regional context.  “There is a huge demand in this market for contextual solutions as most models and systems are imported from abroad with little to no adaptation to the local culture, economy, and environment,” explains Karanouh. “As a consequence of this approach, we are facing major challenges related to user-comfort, efficiency, manageability, durability, and overall sustainability and feasibility of the built environment in the region.”

Accordingly, the firm has tailored each of its innovation hubs rolled out so far across the world to drive specific initiatives. In Aachen, Germany’s ‘Silicon Valley’, for example, there is a focus on customised smart buildings, IoT product testing and cyber-security, while the firm’s Stuttgart hub focuses on start-ups and processes and its Berlin one on smart cities and smart quarters. The Netherlands hub meanwhile focuses on wellbeing and sustainable innovation.

Karanouh: “The innovation hub brings together specialists of various disciplines from across the industry as a single interdisciplinary team that advises clients from early feasibility studies all the way to operation and revitalisation of buildings to maximise comfort, efficiency, sustainability, return of investment and overall value. The platform allows for brainstorming ideas, identifying market gaps and needs, adapting existing solutions or/and developing new solutions tailored to the local market and environment.”