Sun, 05 February 2023
Since its establishment in 1984, Arab Financial Services (AFS) has been a pioneer and leader in the region’s payment sector. We speak to the Chief Executive Officer at AFS, Samer Soliman, who lets us in on the key to the company’s success and its range of services.
AFS has grown to be the region’s leading digital payment solutions provider and fintech enabler, regulated by the Central Bank of Bahrain and serving over 60 clients in more than 20 countries across MEA – from their offices in Bahrain, Egypt, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates.
“A key to AFS’s growth and continued success is our commitment to digital payments innovation and our ongoing investment in the most up-to-date, cutting-edge technologies,” says Mr. Soliman.
In 2022 alone, AFS delivered a number of significant and positive developments to propel the FinTech sector and payments landscape both in Bahrain and regionally. “For Bahrain consumers, we launched our proprietary BPay digital wallet and super app offering. Alongside this, we also collaborated with a UAE financial super app JinglePay to further enhance mobile wallet offerings in the market,” he explains.
As for merchants and businesses, AFS rolled out the first premium hospitality payments solution in the market, while developing their digital payments solutions for merchants (including AFS Go! and AFS Pay). “We also powered the first Discover Global Network transaction in Bahrain, expanding the range of payments acceptance, and undertook a number of informative payments webinars, in collaboration with Bahrain’s Ministry of Industry and Commerce, to support local business communities,” he states.
“Across the banking sector we helped push payments innovation into their corporate agendas – helping to convert existing traditional banking services into contemporary, digital payments platforms with solutions ranging from Open APIs to Open Banking. Effectively AFS is propelling the digital transformation of the banking sector in Bahrain and beyond,” he adds.
It’s an exciting time for the fintech ecosystem, as emerging fintech solutions are changing the way organisations and end users operate. “The range of solutions from Open banking to Robotics, are all topics of interest to me personally and they are all being implemented at AFS both as solutions for our clients and embedded into our internal systems for seamless processes. We have entered three strategic fintech-enabling partnerships over the past few months with JinglePay, BahrainLife and Xpence which will enhance our products and services offering in the market,” he says.
In June 2019, Bahrain began Open Banking services making it the first country in the Middle East to adopt the approach. AFS is invested in playing an important role in this sector to allow banks and end users to benefit equally. “We have also enhanced the introduction of robotics, which we’re proud to say, today, AFS has 25 robots fully integrated into our systems to ensure process automations and timely deliverables,” he states.
AFS launched the inaugural ‘AFS iSuites Summer Internship Programme’ in 2022. The programme focused on giving undergraduate Bahraini students a strong payments technology knowledge-based foundation. “Over two months, we provided our iSuites interns with hands-on work experience, giving them opportunities to engage and work alongside different AFS teams and departments, that challenged their understanding of payments,” he explains.
“I was delighted to have AFS recognised by the Kingdom’s Ministry of Labour recently, acknowledging our longstanding efforts to attract local talent and help in all aspects of their professional development. AFS iSuites is a good example of how we tap into young talent and nurture it,” he adds.
AFS took home two awards at the MEA Finance Awards 2022: ‘Best Payments Solutions Provider – Bahrain’ and ‘Best Technology Executive of the Year for Financial Services’ which Mr. Soliman was honoured to receive.
“These awards are a testament to the work AFS delivered over the past year, in the form of exceptional digital-led payments services and solutions. The AFS team are inspired, passionate payments experts working collaboratively towards one goal: payments innovation and digital transaction transformation. We have committed to delivering only the best and AFS’s positive results and achievements reflect that,” he concludes.