Delegates discuss the future of banking at the first SWIFT Business Forum UAE in Abu Dhabi


De-risking by big banks in mature markets will affect global trade, said Osama Al Rahma, CEO Of Alfardan Exchange and Chairman of Foreign Exchange and Remittance Group (FERG)

Osama Al Rahma at the SWIFT Business Forum

Dubai: SWIFT, a global provider of secure financial messaging services, brought the banking and financial sector together at its first Business Forum UAE in Abu Dhabi to discuss the pressing challenges of cyber threats, de-risking and compliance.

With the theme “Building for the future: regulation, innovation and the transformation of banking”, the event examined the future of banking in an ever-changing regulatory environment and technology developments in the new digital economy.

Osama Al Rahma, CEO of Alfardan Exchange and Chairman of Foreign Exchange and Remittance Group (FERG), gave the keynote speech. He stressed the need to mitigate the impact of de-risking by financial institutions in mature markets. Banks around the world are reducing their correspondent banking relationships with a focus on perceived higher-risk countries, including in the region. This means that more and more banks are losing access to international financial networks and products.

Al Rahma noted that banks in mature markets are re-evaluating their cross-border activities to manage risk. “De-risking has affected many regional banks and financial institutions in the Middle East,” he said. “While regulators in mature markets encourage banks to look at risk management at the level of the financial institutions, correspondent banks are applying de-risking to an entire country or even region.”

“The impact of de-risking from a whole country in the way it is done at the moment will negatively affect global trade,” continued Al Rahma. “SWIFT, a non-profit banking cooperative that is developing sector standards, is supporting the financial community in dealing with the challenge of de-risking in a more realistic and responsible way. It is helping financial institutions become more transparent and giving them the tools and systems to assist them in meeting their regulatory and compliance requirements.”

Speaking to over 160 senior representatives from the UAE’s banking and financial industry, Khaled Moharem, Head of the Middle East and North Africa region for SWIFT, said: “The cost of financial crime compliance is high – the consequences of failure even greater. We are supporting banks and financial institutions in complying with complex regulatory requirements while adopting financial technology solutions that will enhance the efficacy and transparency of their systems.”

Other speakers at the event included senior executives from Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Emirates NBD, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, Central Bank of the UAE, National Bank of Abu Dhabi, Citi Bank Dubai and Lulu Exchange.

About SWIFT:

SWIFT is a global member-owned cooperative and the world’s leading provider of secure financial messaging services. We provide our community with a platform for messaging, standards for communicating and we offer products and services to facilitate access and integration; identification, analysis and financial crime compliance. Our messaging platform, products and services connect more than 11,000 banking and securities organisations, market infrastructures and corporate customers in more than 200 countries and territories, enabling them to communicate securely and exchange standardised financial messages in a reliable way. As their trusted provider, we facilitate global and local financial flows, support trade and commerce all around the world; we relentlessly pursue operational excellence and continually seek ways to lower costs, reduce risks and eliminate operational inefficiencies. Headquartered in Belgium, SWIFT’s international governance and oversight reinforces the neutral, global character of its cooperative structure. SWIFT’s global office network ensures an active presence in all the major financial centres.