Understanding Financial Regulations in the MENA Region

The financial regulatory landscape in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is complex and evolving, with each country having its own set of rules and regulations. As marketers and content creators in the financial space, Contentworks Agency maintains a high-level of regulatory monitoring to ensure compliant content for brokers, fintechs and financial services firms. Understanding the regulatory landscape in the MENA region is imperative to building trust and long-term success. Here are some tips and insights for understanding financial regulations in the MENA region.

Who Is In The MENA Region?

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region includes approximately 21 countries, according to The World Bank. The term typically includes the area from Morocco in northwest Africa to Iran in southwest Asia and down to Sudan in Africa. The following countries are often included in the MENA region: Algeria, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malta, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Palestine, and Yemen.

Financial Regulations in the MENA Region – Regulatory Bodies in MENA

First, let’s start with a quick look at the different authorities in the region by country and the licenses they offer.

  • United Arab Emirates – Abu Dhabi Global Markets (ADGM)/ Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA)
  • Saudi Arabia – Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA)
  • Bahrain – Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB)
  • Qatar – Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) Authority
  • Kuwait – Central Bank of Kuwait (CBK)
  • Oman – Central Bank of Oman (CBO)
  • Jordan – Central Bank of Jordan (CBJ)
  • Lebanon – Banque du Liban (BDL)
  • Egypt – Central Bank of Egypt (CBE)

Opportunities for financial services firms in Mena

The MENA fintech market was valued at $5,274.26 million in 2022 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 27.6% over the next 7 years. Despite geopolitical tensions in the region, the financial markets remain relatively stable, with no major capital or investor outflows in 2023. Growth expected to rise from 2% in 2023 to 2.9% in 2024, outpacing Europe and the Americas. Factors driving growth of the MENA Fintech market include increasing demand for sophisticated financial services among high-net-worth individuals.

This lucrative market is becoming increasingly attractive to financial services firms. The digital payments segment has the largest share of the MENA Fintech market by application. Meanwhile, the banking sector is dominated by GCC lenders, followed by Egypt and Morocco.

Key Players in Fintech

Some of the most followed fintechs in the MENA financial markets include – Investcorp, Emirates NBD Bank (P.J.S.C.), Tamara, Pepper, PayTabs, Tabby, NymCard, MashreqBank, ADIB, CBD NOW.

From legacy institutions to the more playful fintechs, following these brands is a great way to get a feel for the region.

Fintech has continued to rank as the most funded and transacted sector in the region over the past several years – payment platform Tamara’s Series C funding round raised $340 million in 2023, while Tabby secured $250 million in Series D funding and $700 million in debt financing from JPMorgan.

Recent Mena Fintech Trends

In the region we are seeing an increased focus on regulating fintech activities, corporate governance, money laundering and high reserve requirements. Your content and thought-leadership in the region needs to reflect these themes and more.

Here are a couple of recent developments to take note of:

  • On September 29, 2023, the UAE Central Bank (CBUAE) introduced the new Finance Companies Regulation
  • In December 2023, the Saudi Central Bank issued more detailed BNPL Guidelines.
  • Bahrain has introduced a regulatory framework for Open Banking.

Staying updated on regulations is key, not only creating trust, but also to avoid hefty fines. These regulators mean serious business and their bite can be big. Recently The Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) imposed a fine of $1,368,767 (AED 5,023,375) on R.J. O’Brien Capital Limited. Meanwhile, DFSA imposed financial penalties against Alessandro Faro Trading Ltd (AFTL) and Fius Capital Limited (FCL).

Building a Successful Forex Brand in MENA

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has emerged as a significant player in the global forex trading market, driven by its growing economies, increasing investment opportunities, and the desire for financial diversification. Forex traders in the MENA region have the advantage of trading local currency pairs, including the Saudi Arabian Riyal (SAR), United Arab Emirates Dirham (AED), and Egyptian Pound (EGP). These pairs provide opportunities for traders to capitalise on regional economic developments and fluctuations in oil prices.

There are a lot of demands on the content you create for your forex brokerage. It needs to be culturally accessible, keeping in mind that one approach won’t fit all the countries in the region. It needs to engage your demographic and it needs to comply with local regulations.

Let’s Talk Shariah

Shariah or Islamic banking, trading and investing is crucial for the region. From payment fintechs, to banking to forex brokers, ethical solutions that abide by the principles and teachings of the Koran are essential. There are many online resources to find out more about halal investing and your marketing needs to echo those values.

Contentworks Agency in MENA

We work with many clients across the MENA region and remain updated on the latest changes to the regulatory landscape that impact content and marketing in general. We are connected to a wide network of regional publications that allow us to shape effective PR strategies. Contentworks provides compliant marketing services to brokers, fintech, banks and financial services firms, that also engage your target audience and hits your KPIs!

If you’re looking to grow your brand in the MENA region, then reach out to us for a 15-mintues zoom with our team.