Money & BusinessBahrainTech & Telecoms

AFS: How will a globally recognised financial service really benefit you?

Here’s how Arab Financial Service’s (AFS) globally recognised payments solutions are changing transactions as we know them...

Gulf Insider speaks to Samer Soliman, Chief Executive Officer, Arab Financial Services on the future of online payments, digital banking, and how transactions will evolve in the coming years.

AFS has recently been globally recognised as a Leading Payments Innovator and Best Payments Solutions Provider, and your product AFS Go! has been named the Best New Payments Solution for MSMEs, in 2022. What does this mean for your clients?

Choosing the best payment solution is not always an easy task. There are many things to consider when choosing a payment platform that are crucial to the success of any business in the long term. At AFS, we wanted to make sure we offered a hub with enough features and products that is highly secure, and above all, easy to use – to best suit the future needs of our clients.

Of course, it is gratifying to see our work being recognized, but what I am most excited about is that we have been able to provide our clients with the quality service they require.

How will AFS enable digital transformation in the region?

AFS is a technology-led organization. To lead and enable digital transformation effectively, we have actively focused on our innovation, digital capabilities, and on identifying business potentials.

To enable digital transformation in the region, it’s clear that we needed to create new business models alongside new products and services that deliver value and drive business growth.

To name a few recent initiatives, we launched mobile wallets in Bahrain with a leading telecommunications company and in Oman with banking and telecommunications partners. This was followed by a partnership with Discover Network to open acceptance of Discover & Diner cards in Bahrain exclusively on our PoS terminals – a first for the Kingdom. We also enabled tokenisation of ila Bank’s card to allow payments via NFC without the presence of a physical card and introduced more than 350 API’s that empower our platform and can be consumed by Fintech enablers.

How will your strategy shape the future of banking?

Our strategy is centered around our vision to power the digital transaction transformation across the region. Our mission is to be the partner of choice and to offer better, faster, more secure products and services, innovative and integrated digital payments, and fintech solutions that help our customers grow their business.

As payments and technology increasingly come together, AFS is partnering with likeminded organisations to lead this change to deliver more streamlined, more integrated, and more secure payment platforms that drive business growth and financial inclusion.

Can you briefly tell us about your digital solution bundle AFS Go! and how it supports the growth of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the Kingdom?

There are over 90,000 MSMEs in Bahrain and they are grossly underserved digitally. AFS Go! includes 3 solutions – eShop (dedicated website with payment gateway), In-Store Payments (PoS solutions including ‘bring your own device’ option) and a Digital Payroll (to serve unbanked workers).

It is a single touch solution designed to be smart, highly secure, capable of handling multiple transactions in seconds and an optimal payment solution for MSME’s and entrepreneurs of all sizes.

You have embraced technology in your organisation long before many others. How do you see online payments and digital banking developing in the near future?

In my opinion, we are starting a new era of faster payments and Open Banking. Financial institutions and merchants are increasingly looking for a payment hub that is efficient, reliable, offers great value, and provides consumers with an array of choice when making payments.

Online payment and digital banking are going to become even smarter, more rapid, and more versatile in terms of offering payment methods that include multiple choice between cards, wallets, account-to-account, and of course, accompanied by some value adds such as Loyalty Card Program, Dynamic Currency Conversion, and buy-now-pay-later options – all in one unified hub.

There are a lot of developments in the finance sector right now. What excites you the most and how do you see things playing out in the next 5 years?

The answer is easy! Metaverse, its expansion, and how companies are going to embrace the approach is something I truly look forward to seeing evolve over time.


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