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Interview with Dr. Nabil Zaki, Board Member of First Abu Dhabi Bank

Interview with Dr. Nabil Zaki, Board Member of First Abu Dhabi Bank



the Zwipe Team

Megha Roy


Senior Manager, Marketing & Communications, Zwipe

In an interaction with Zwipe, Dr. Nabil Zaki, Board Member of First Abu Dhabi Bank, Egypt and the Managing Director of Global Finance Associates, USA, explains the banking landscape in the MENA region and talks about how Biometric Payment Cards can ensure loyalty to financial institutions. 

What are the biggest milestones in the MENA region’s banking industry that you see as defining moments? 

The MENA region is a very diversified area when it comes to banking structures and developments. Some countries in this region are extremely advanced in terms of banking services and solutions, while others have just introduced some innovation and automation to their financial sector.

Over the last few years, the MENA region has witnessed very high growth across several innovative banking solutions. This is because many emerging markets in the area usually adopt the latest offerings available.  

 Speaking about milestones in this region, one of the major milestones here is the adoption of mobile apps to conduct financial transactions at private and public entities. As some countries like Saudi Arabia and UAE do not accept cash at most governmental entities, this signifies a very advanced financial ecosystem. Another important fact to highlight here is the inception of many digital banks to provide clients with the latest financial services available worldwide.

What is your take on the evolution of payment cards in the past and in the coming years? How fundamental are Biometric Payment Cards in the world of payments? 

Cards will continue to grow in the coming decade. I believe the introduction of biometric features on the cards will strengthen the product and make it survive and even grow at a faster pace.

Biometric Payment Cards allow high-security levels. This is key to cardholders in the MENA region. Consumers are also prioritizing this, especially those who entered the digital world relatively more recently than other areas, hence, requiring more secure payment vehicles to be able to adapt faster and move away from cash.

To know more about Biometric Payment Cards, click here

Building trust and safety are the two important pillars of financial institutions. How can biometric technology help in protecting financial assets against attacks and build trust? 

The high level of security brought by biometric technology is key to increasing confidence and trust in payment vehicles used. In a world full of financial crimes, biometric payments become a necessity to ensure continuity in the sector.

With the introduction of Biometric Payment Cards, banks will be able to protect their clients better. As a result, customers will trust their banks more ensuring advanced levels of safety. This will consequently increase retention and loyalty to financial institutions.

“MENA region has witnessed high growth across several innovative banking solutions”

“Cards will continue to grow in the coming decade”

“Banks will be able to protect its clients better with Biometric Payment Cards”


What do you think about having a common and unified regulation around cards and e- payments for Arab countries like the European Union of Banks? How does this help to grow this sector faster? 

This will be a great initiative to help issuers across such countries ensure product acceptance in a more user-friendly manner. We do face different regulations around cards in Arab countries. I believe it is better to unify them or make them very similar to each other without compromising on security and customer experience.

Customer demands in the MENA region are somehow similar given the lifestyle and mindsets here. Therefore, itis important to have uniform regulation around cards and e-payments to encourage financial institutions introduce products that clients can benefit from domestically as well as while travelling across the border.

If an issuer in the Middle East region wants to roll out biometric cards, what would be your recommendation to them?

I will encourage them to do so as biometrics will be the future of this sector. It is time to lead in this arena and show the world what banks can bring to their clients in terms of a high level of security. I am sure that banks in the MENA region can do so and lead by example in this sector.  

What are the technological upgrades required for financial institutions to be future-ready? 

Right from the pandemic, e-commerce was dominant. As such, a vast proportion of users got used to such services post-pandemic. To be future-ready, financial institutions must think agile, secure, safe and contact-free.

People in the MENA region prefer face-to-face transactions when it comes to payments. However, thee-commerce industry has grown drastically in the past decade and will continue to grow in the coming period. Thus, financial institutions must change their legacy systems to be fast in responding to customers' demands.

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