- Fintech will reduce the profitability of some of the GCC banks’ business lines, particularly money transfer and foreign-currency exchange.
- We expect GCC banks to adjust their operations through greater digitalization and branch network and staff rationalization.
- We also expect GCC regulators to continue protecting the stability of their banking systems.
- On average, we don’t foresee fintech alone having a significant bearing on our GCC bank ratings in the next two years.
DUBAI (S&P Global Ratings) Oct. 17, 2017–S&P Global Ratings believes that financial technology (fintech) could reduce the profitability of some business lines of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) banks and change the way they operate over time, according to a report published today titled “The Future Of Banking: Could Fintech Disrupt Gulf Cooperation Council Banks’ Business Models? “.
“Technological innovation in the financial sector is a global trend, reaching developed and developing economies alike,” said S&P Global Ratings credit analyst Mohamed Damak.
“While we don’t expect major disruption of lending activity in the GCC–which remains concentrated on the corporate sector and by individual corporate borrowers–we think that fintech could impinge on retail banking, particularly money transfer and foreign-currency exchange. This would push some banks to adjust their operations through increased digitalization, branch network reduction, and staff rationalization,” Mr. Damak added.
However, we don’t expect fintech alone to have a significant influence on our GCC banks ratings in the next two years. That’s because we consider that banks will be able to adapt to their changing operating environment through a combination of collaboration with fintech companies and cost-reduction measures. We think that some banks are starting to realize the extent of the threats and opportunities that fintech poses, and are putting in place measures to adjust to the new realities of their operating environment. We also believe that regulators in the GCC will continue to protect the financial stability of their banking systems.
For the moment, we view fintech as the new competitor on the block, but not yet a game changer for banks’ operations in the GCC. For that reason, it’s not yet a negative rating driver over our rating horizon, which typically extends to two years. However, we believe fintech will increasingly become a force to be reckoned with. The eventual impact on bank ratings will depend not only on how banks respond to the new competition and the particular vulnerabilities of their business models, but also on the response from authorities and regulators to fintech’s growing clout.
Director, Middle East