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Microsoft hosts its first Financial Services Summit for the Middle East

Microsoft has pulled together customers and partners from the financial services industry to discuss the challenges facing the financial sector in the region

Microsoft held its first Financial Services Summit over the weekend. The event, which will be held annually, brought together customers and partners from the financial services industry to discuss new technologies, best practices and other issues concerning the sector.

“Global technological development has created the possibility of direct access to information, any time, any place, and on any device and with this comes the opportunity to deepen customer relationships, grow revenue and cut unwanted costs. Technology is the single most important business driver in this information-based financial industry,” said Mohammed Kateeb, managing director, Microsoft Middle East.

“With rising transaction volumes and shrinking margins, there is increased pressure to achieve operational efficiency and reduce the marginal cost per transaction. In order to address these challenges and strengthen the financial technology foundation in the Middle East, Microsoft is proud to have partnered with HP, Accenture, Intel, Mindscape and Financial Objects,” added Kateeb.

The financial services industry faces a number of challenges, according to Sherif Seddik, enterprise sales director for Microsoft Middle East and Africa. Growing regulatory demands on banks requires them to have better monitoring of processes; customer uptake of different services from their financial services providers means they need better customer relationship management and the increase in transaction volumes and types of businesses being conducted automatically means a greater need for robust and secure banking systems.

“Banking silos have blurred,” Seddik explained. “One of the biggest challenges for banks is the need to link systems—they have realised they can’t deal with customers as just individual accounts, and customers are moving if they can’t get the services they want.

“The last few years have seen trading in shares and mutuals expand to a much larger base than just traders and the rich. This has increased the number of transactions to a very large number of transactions of smaller volumes, which has put a lot of pressure on systems,” he added. “There are new regulations too, the old ways of looking at validity [of transactions] is not enough any more, you have to look at whether banks can detect money laundering or fraudulent transactions.

“When we look at a business, if we want to understand solutions, we have to understand the problems facing that business. Part of our commitment to this is in organising this summit for all of our Middle East customers, to really try to examine the challenges facing the financial industry, and encourage discussion among the banks, and present some ideas that banks in other parts of the world are using,” Seddik said.

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