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Jan 07, 2022
The coronavirus pandemic has rapidly accelerated the rise of the digital age – disrupting industries, transforming the way they operate, and forcing businesses to constantly innovate.
Keeping pace with growing digitisation demands of customers and amidst an unstable business environment, Mountasser Hachem, MyMonty’s CEO, looks towards new avenues of growth and untapped opportunities.
“Since the financial crisis in 2008 and 2009 and many other occurrences arising around the globe, people started looking for different substitutes to rely on. They are even appealing for simple and fast services considering how fast their lives’ rhythm became. An undisputable potential exists in this area and we can all notice it, even at current moments,” shares Hachem.
With that, he diversified his business by entering into the fintech space, a sector that is dominating the region. “In the business world, change may be inevitable, however, business growth always depends on strategies and actions you take to achieve it,” he adds.
The Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region saw $39.1bn in fintech investments in the first half of this year, and globally, fintech investments hit $98bn in the first half of 2021, compared with $121.5bn during the entirety of 2020, KPMG research shows.
“As the telecommunication industry is endlessly evolving and consumer demand is shifting toward competent alternative services, Monty Group was prompted to take initiative to seek new opportunities to fill these trends,” he comments.
With traditional communication services experiencing a fundamental shift in favour of digital omnichannel systems, Monty Group has maintained its competitive edge through extending its portfolio to include a wide range of fintech, data monetisation, IoT and mobile advertising solutions, as well as partnering with global mobile operators, aggregators and enterprises.
“Digitisation and digital transition were the main highlights over the past few years, and this phase will continue to be an inflection point to many industries,” says Hachem.
As a dynamic CEO in the world of telecom, Hachem has led the growth of Monty Mobile from a single office operation back in 1998 to a key regional and international industry player with 16 worldwide offices and more than 650 employees.
With digital banking, the rise in electronic payments, and fintech solutions being leading factors in the future of customer finance, Hachem saw a new market opportunity for Monty Group to tap into.
“Digital banking is no longer a theoretical concept or an underdeveloped goal. It became part of our daily lives. Nobody will disagree that the banking industry is going through a massive structural change unlike anything ever observed in previous decades,” he says.
“New technologies are making a significant impact on traditional banking models, consumers’ expectations, as well as competitors in the marketplace.”
“Monty Mobile never stopped looking for new ways to stretch its activities to new markets and expand its global presence,” Hachem adds.
With a desire to level up users’ experience with innovative fintech services, Monty Group is continuously expanding its services and introducing a cohort of fintech ventures that aim to fulfil existing market gaps, including its neobank MyMonty, and its payment gateway MontyPay amongst others.
“This is a new market and is evolving quickly based on general market and consumers’ demands. In the business world, change may be inevitable. However, business growth always depends on strategies and actions you take to achieve it,” he emphasises.
The MENA’s digital financial services scene continues to evolve, presenting tremendous opportunities for new players to enter the market. Bank branch visits in the UAE have declined by 5 percent compared to last year, while mobile and online banking usage has increased by 10 percent, with 88 percent of customers now willing to open a digital-only bank account, according to BCG’s 2021 Consumer Sentiment Study in Banking study.
With that, Hachem is envisioning tremendous growth in this segment with the launch of Monty Finance, a sister company of Monty Mobile and its newest futuristic fintech venture.
The online banking platform, set to launch in the European Economic Area by end of 2021 and aiming to go live in the Middle East and Africa during 2022, caters to previously underserved and unbanked communities, offering financial convenience, AI-backed features, and a transparent and empowering digital banking experience.
“Our neobank is targeting a huge gap missed by traditional banks through our innovative products that would be placed at the disposal of users to transact worldwide from their homes and without the necessity to access any physical branch.”
Financial inclusion remains at the top of Hachem’s agenda and the wider Monty Group, with MyMonty playing a critical role in ensuring that the world’s marginalised segment is able to access basic financial needs.
Around 1.7 billion adults, more than 20 percent of the global population, are ‘unbanked’, according to a report by JP Morgan. Within that demographic, about two-thirds have a mobile phone, providing a vital opportunity for companies to offer app-based banking services for the ‘unbanked’.
As countries continue to strengthen their technological infrastructure, Hachem believes in the value that digital banking can offer in terms of providing access to financial services and facilitating financial inclusion globally.
“MyMonty is ushering in a new chapter of online banking prosperity for all,” says Hachem.
“Our success story supports our capabilities and willingness to achieve our vision and work towards making the world a better place, where everyone has access to its basic necessities – as simple as a transactional account, an affordable financial service, and connectivity to the world in a borderless era.”
Being agile enough to cope with the dynamic changes in customers’ expectations is a key success factor, according to Hachem.
“One of the real differentiators for the challenger banks has been their agile banking system as compared to legacy systems… they are tailored to cope with consumer needs and their constant behavioural modifications and our system is dynamic enough to cope with unforeseen future market demands,” he explains.
Comprising advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) features, and unique online user experiences, customers will be empowered to attribute funds to their MyMonty account and use their contactless cards to transact anywhere in the world, at any time, with extreme ease via the market exchange rate.
Through MyMonty, customers will be able to open a paperless account without a minimum amount; physical and virtual payment cards; online banking services; money transfer and remittances; bill payments and many other services. Additional features including loyalty management, AI and digital lending are due to be added as part of the venture’s future plans, as well as an expansion into wealth management, stocks and cryptocurrency.
Hachem emphasises the role of partnerships and cross-sector collaborations in retaining customer loyalty and meeting their ever-changing needs. “Competition in this industry is tight, but the game is changing and customers’ expectations are moving at a faster pace than market offerings – a race always exists to win long-term customer relationship and loyalty,” he says.
“Partnerships and cross sector collaboration is a key success factor in today’s business, bringing companies from different field of expertise to offer an unrivalled service. By focusing on functions rather than on a sector on its own, we can leverage on each other’s expertise.”
With that, MyMonty is actively seeking to collaborate with leading financial industry players to elevate its offerings and share expertise, primarily banks and investors interested in entering the South East Asian, Middle Eastern and African markets who are keen to explore the fintech space.
“Offering a stand-alone product or a bouquet of financial products in partnerships with financial institutions or banks and fintech firms would result in synergies on both sides, in term of exceptional quality of service offered from one part, and a very competitive cost from the second part,” Hachem adds.
“Partnerships with banks, mobile operators, and other fintech companies would benefit every side of the partnership and ultimately our customers.”
Acknowledging the differences that exist between the telecom and fintech industries in terms of target markets and overall cultures, Hachem expresses his confidence in Monty Mobile and the new fintech venture being able to combine their strengths to offer new synergies.
“There are several areas in which they can collaborate and offer creative and new technologies to the market even though they are so distinct in every aspect. They complement each other,” he explains.
The increasing use of the mobile ecosystem placed pressure on network operators, who have been forced to constantly repurpose their offerings in line with market demands.
With the spirit of cross-sector collaboration in mind and a drive to offer broader and diversified offerings, Monty Mobile’s Virtual Credit Card (MVCC) was established, which works hand-in-hand with mobile operators to introduce them to the world of fintech.
“Credit cards are not new – yet, its modernisation involves setting up an agile technology in partnership with mobile operators,” says Hachem.
Looking ahead, Monty Group is anticipating an “exciting” product roadmap underpinned by an optimism that the key to progress will remain innovation.
“A long list of services and products will be rolled out progressively during the coming year… we are certain that this is only the beginning for us,” shares Hachem.