Amazon Payment Services opens its first FinTech Lab in DIFC

Company is developing a programme to work with SMEs, start-ups and regulators to find solutions to payment pain points

Omar Soudodi, managing director of Amazon Payment Services, and Arif Amiri, chief executive of DIFC Authority, at the launch of the Amazon FinTech Lab in DIFC Innovation Hub in Dubai on Tuesday. Courtesy: Amazon Payment Services

Payment processing business Amazon Payment Services has set up its first global FinTech lab at the DIFC Innovation Hub to support regional start-ups and companies driving innovation in digital payments.

The initiative aims to increase FinTech adoption in the region by providing a forum for discussions on digital payments and addressing challenges customers face in making payments, the company said yesterday.

"The region is going from a frontier stage to an emerging stage of financial technology. Through the Amazon FinTech Lab, we work with innovators and visionaries to turn exciting new ideas and concepts into transformational and disruptive forces in FinTech," managing director Omar Soudodi told The National.

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We are looking to support innovations that will help make the payment experience easier, secure and more affordable for customers

“We are looking to support innovation that will help make the payment experience easier, secure and more affordable for customers.”

The digital payments business is booming, with the Covid-19 pandemic encouraging more businesses to use new technology.

Globally, digital payments are set to grow to $8.26 trillion in 2024, from $4.4tn last year, according to research company Statista.

The UAE is among the countries leading this adoption. Two thirds of people expect the country to become fully cashless by 2030, according to a poll by Standard Chartered.

A report by US-based TechSci Research also found the UAE mobile wallet market is expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 24 per cent to $2.3 billion by 2022.

The DIFC Innovation Hub, which opened last month, is a global FinTech centre that has attracted hundreds of FinTech start-ups from around the world.

The 7,432-square-metre establishment is on Gate Avenue within the new Dubai Future District.

“We welcome Amazon Payment Services’s first FinTech lab in the world at the Innovation Hub in DIFC,” said Arif Amiri, chief executive of the DIFC Authority.

“We are looking forward to working together to drive the future of finance.”

The Amazon FinTech Lab will organise workshops for start-ups and other organisations in different industries such as e-commerce, insurance and travel to understand any payment issues they face.

It is also looking to partner with regulators, payment technology companies such as Visa and Mastercard and payment processors.

“We will also mentor and co-create with FinTech companies,” said Mr Soudodi.

"We will be publishing an agenda of activities that will be organised under the Amazon FinTech Lab."

The lab recently had a co-creation session with Value, an Egyptian FinTech company, to make transactions cheaper for customers in Egypt and beyond, he said.

There are currently more than 300 FinTechs in the GCC tackling cash digitisation challenges, among others.

The next few years will be an “exciting time” for FinTech companies in the region, according to Mr Soudodi.

The global payments industry is evolving and has reached a point where customers can make frictionless payments using voice or biometric palm prints, even without a device, he said.

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