The second edition of the Financial Sector Conference (FSC 2023) has concluded in Riyadh, with a mood of optimism and energy to overcome market challenges to build a stronger, technology driven and sustainable economy of the future.
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Courtney Powell, Chief Operating Officer and Managing Partner, 500 Global (Photo: AETOSWire)
Over 3200 participants from 82 countries, and 180 media, assembled in the Saudi capital to discuss the way ahead for the global financial community under the conference theme of “Promising Financial Prospects.”
Representatives from some of the biggest global financial institutions joined Government Finance Ministers met to identify the most effective road map for future growth and prosperity for the sector – enabling greater use of technology, diversification, cross border cooperation and embracing the green economy.
The conference also saw multiple MOUs and agreements signed to support real estate development; FinTech development and digital financing solutions worth billions of dollars and the National Bank of Iraq announced the start of operations in Saudi Arabia.
Concluding the conference, Saudi Central Bank Governor HE Ayman Mohammed Alsayari highlighted the Kingdom's efforts to provide an attractive environment for FinTech companies in line with the goals of Vision 2030 goals, and the vital role they play to support the growth of the private sector, to diversify the economy, and to stimulate saving, financing and investment.
Debating the important role of Venture Capital, Courtney Powell, Chief Operating Officer and Managing Partner, 500 Global, said: “Since we made our first investment in the Middle East in 2012, we have seen incredible growth and we have 14 companies today valued at over $100 million. The willingness of the government to support entrepreneurs combined with the opening up of the Kingdom shows it has the potential of becoming a leading global hub for entrepreneurship.”
In discussion about the future of global money flows, HE Giancarlo Giorgetti, Italian Minister of Economy and Finance stated: “In the financial sector, fragmentation induced by geopolitical tension will have strong implications by affecting global and financial stability, the cross-border allocation of capital, international payment systems, and asset prices.”
Financing for the SME sector was a key debating point on the final day of the conference with the enormous growth of the sector both in the Middle East and internationally. Tala Al Jabri, Board Member, Middle East VC Association (MEVCA) identified a major financing gap for the sector. He said: “95% of enterprises in the region are SMEs and the loan profile that goes to them is only 7% – which is the lowest in the world, indicating a massive gap.”
The FinTech sector in Saudi Arabia meanwhile is flourishing as Ziad Alyousef, Deputy Governor for Development and Technology, Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) explained: “In 2018, there were less than 10 companies operating in the FinTech community. Now, there are over 155 companies operating in the space in Saudi Arabia and this has led to increased investments and job creation."
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