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MENA grows as hub for international finance

Sheikh Hamdan with Gottfried Leibbrandt

Sheikh Hamdan with Gottfried Leibbrandt

SWIFT, the financial messaging provider for more than 10,000 banks, securities institutions and corporate customers in 212 countries and territories, has announced that its business in the Middle East has outperformed the total growth of the business globally by 45 per cent, underpinning the growing importance of the region as a hub for international banking and finance.

This marks a major milestone for SWIFT in MENA as it continues to expand and invest in the region in the face of hosting its annual global industry event, Sibos, in Dubai later this year.

Gottfried Leibbrandt, chief executive officer, SWIFT, said, “The Middle East region is a vital market for SWIFT; it has outperformed our other regions and contributes significantly to the growth of our business globally. We are excited with the growth potential this market can bring to SWIFT and are bringing more resources, services and opportunities to the local financial community.”

Growth in the region is spread across SWIFT’s traditional financial message-based business (including payments, securities, treasury and trade) and in the rapidly expanding non-network-based businesses such as consulting and services, business intelligence and connectivity solutions.

The growth in SWIFT’s message businesses in the Middle East was led by the securities markets, which saw double digit growth of around 14 per cent in 2012 versus the previous year. This was followed by international payments traffic, which grew by more than 10 per cent in 2012.

Sido Bestani, head of Middle East and North Africa at SWIFT, speaking at a press  conference in Dubai, said, “The Middle East is one of the most dynamic and fast changing regions in the world today. SWIFT has ambitious plans to accelerate local market growth by investing in people and resources and expanding its service offerings through the regional hub.”

Launched in early 2012, SWIFT’s Middle East Consulting Hub has a multi-language team of SWIFT experts who provide business and technical analysis, integration and implementation services, as well as training and support services.

Bestani added, “Given the growing importance of the Middle East to the global financial community, we selected the UAE as the first Regional Consulting Hub. Over the past year we have been building out the team, and it is already providing dedicated support for the region’s corporates and financial institutions.”

More than 1100 banks, financial institutions and corporations in the region connect to other domestic, regional and global institutions and market infrastructures every day through SWIFT’s highly secure and reliable network, to communicate about financial transactions.

Key clients already include many of the region’s major financial institutions, central banks and corporates, and their number across the region is rising rapidly. For example, the number of exchange houses that have joined the SWIFT community has risen from just two in 2007 to 45 this year – with three more in the process of signing up. This includes all of the major exchange houses in the region, and 26 in the UAE alone.

Similarly, the growth of the corporate community connected to SWIFT in the region is gaining velocity year-on-year. In 2012, the number of corporate clients grew by more than 31 per cent, following increases of more than 21 per cent and 19 per cent in 2011 and 2010, respectively.

SWIFT set for Sibos

Each year SWIFT hosts Sibos, a global industry event attracting more than 7,000 of the world’s most prominent financial institutions and technology vendors across the financial services industry. From 16-19 September, SWIFT will be bringing Sibos to Dubai, where the industry’s leading executives and technology providers will converge to debate and discuss key industry topics as well as network with peers from across the globe.

Commenting on Sibos, Alain Raes, chief executive, EMEA and Asia Pacific, SWIFT, said, “Everyone comes to Sibos. It is the one place that all the key influencers and major players in financial services can get together and discuss issues, do business, and demo new solutions. We are thrilled to bring Sibos to Dubai and hope this further solidifies the UAE’s mark as a key financial centre.”

HE Hisham Al Shirawi, first vice-chairman, Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said, “Dubai is the region’s leading banking and financial hub and it was with pleasure that we hosted this roundtable discussion with the CEO of Swift. We are looking forward to Sibos, which is coming to Dubai in September, bringing with it global leaders in finance, market infrastructures, multinational corporations and technology. It is an important achievement for Dubai to attract an event of this size and calibre and one that demonstrates the city’s status as an international business destination.”

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