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Bahrain gears up for cards summit

Manama, October 30, 2010

More than 20 leaders from the global payment sector will gather to discuss and debate the future of cards at a major summit commencing next week in Bahrain.

The second edition of GCC Cards Summit 2010 is set to be held between November 1 and 3 at the Mövenpick Hotel Bahrain.

Internationally acclaimed evolution biologist, futurist and business consultant Dr Elisabet Sahtouris will keynote the conference with a broad evolutionary view of the human condition, showing how the process of globalisation fits into the evolutionary picture.

Showing Darwinian evolution theory to be only half of the evolutionary picture, while dominating economic theory, Dr Sahtouris will share why cooperation is as much a part of evolution as competition and very much on the immediate human agenda.

“We can learn from the current global challenges such as global warming, peak oil and financial system disasters, and attempt to find where the banking business, including cards, may, or could be, headed in the near future,” she said.

She suggests that it is the brave visionaries of the banking and finance industry who have the opportunity to build organisations of the future, but warned that some radical shifts must be made.

“The old albeit familiar ways will only lead to the same outcomes – just  as we have witnessed in past months. Humans are capable of regaining the reverence for life, of replacing the drive to conquer with the will to cooperate, and of moulding institutions, including business corporations, into living systems,” Dr Sahtouris said.

Shankar Sharma, chief executive officer, Arab Financial Services (AFS) said the cards industry is facing a set of fresh challenges as customer demographics and expectations change in line with shifts in technology and lifestyle.

“The sector has a responsibility to constantly redesign the payment portfolio as technology advances and customer behaviour evolves. Indeed, banks must shift their focus across product, marketing and customer service or else prepare to struggle to retain business,” he said.

Sharma stressed that change is the constant and traditional operators must embrace this if they want to be part of the growth in the payment market. AFS is on-board as the summit’s platinum sponsor.

Ali Abbas, regional consultant, Mena & Turkey for Euromonitor International said that numerous opportunities are now available to banks.

“The prepaid cards category is one of the highest growing categories in both card numbers and transaction volumes over the past five years, worldwide,” he said.

“In the UAE alone transactions have grown by 26 per cent in value and 28 per cent in volume from 2008, to reach Dh725 million ($197 million) and four million transactions in 2009,” Abbas added.

Premal Patel, executive director, Veritas Events, the summit organiser, suggested that the youth segment provides a massive opportunity for retail banking and that the industry must make a radical shift if it is to appeal to this profile.

Colin Loubser COO of NovoPay reaffirmed that the prepaid mechanism is ripe for massive growth as government initiatives combine with commercial opportunities of usage in the Middle East.

Loubser, a global expert on prepaid opportunities, said that the prepaid segment is predicted to drive 40 per cent of total consumer spend globally and the region is no exception.

More than 150 regional and international players are expected to attend the two-day cards summit. – TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Bahrain | Globalisation | Credit | Veritas | GCC Cards Summit | Dr Sahtouris | Debit cards |

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