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Fintech is unlocking virtual trading. Can it democratize investment in the Middle East?

The ease of creating trading accounts online and managing them via AI has encouraged young people to become investors.

[Source photo: Venkat Reddy/Fast Company Middle East]

Numerous investment options like funds and stocks, fluctuating markets, and trading advice often leave millennials frustrated. The hassle of tracking share prices made savings and investments cumbersome. Online trading has been an option for the past two decades, but registering a trading account and going through a brokerage for every stock purchase required hefty commissions. 

Millennials in the Middle East are now used to an environment where shopping, payments, and almost every daily service are available on their smartphones, thanks to e-commerce apps, payment wallets, and online platforms. They have the funds but not the time and patience to track stock markets, monitor precious metals, and build a portfolio of assets; this is where fintech apps come in.

Now you may envision an app for e-banking, savings, and bill payments when financial tech is mentioned. Still, considering that the number of fintech apps in the Middle East will reach almost 500 this year, these startups are betting big on innovation. Fintech apps had started simplifying investing savings shares and even crypto through regular updates, insights, and commission-free trading in real-time. The pandemic propelled these platforms into the mainstream.

Young professionals facing financial uncertainty during lockdowns started becoming aware of shares based on the firm’s popularity on social media, triggering the rise of assets known as meme stocks. 

An investment that is now accessible to all changed the game in a big way, and that was evident when Redditors drove up the prices of GameStop, to beat short-sellers on Wall Street at their own game.

Now that the masses compete with seasoned stock market suits to control their investments, fintech apps create a level playing field, where information, analysis, and automated assistance are freely available.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Qatar are introducing policies, creating tech ecosystems, and setting up hubs for encouraging the rise of fintech. So it’s time to look at apps offering the most innovative financial services in the region.

Machine learning to manage funds and educate investors

From your smart home appliances to virtual assistants and predictive tech for managing traffic, AI is cutting downtime and effort for almost every day-to-day activity, but can you trust a bot with your finances?

UAE-based firm Century Finance may convince you to rely on its intelligent tech platform Quantifier to manage your portfolio, provide market analysis, educate you about trading, and send out news updates about your assets.

The smart investment manager is designed to ease new investors into the market without the hassle and has tailormade insights for experienced players, analysts, and brokers in the Middle East.

It also offers a real-estate crowdfunding feature, where developers can raise money from online investors who get to own a fraction of the property and get returns from rental payments and the sale of an asset.

Connecting investors with global markets

You probably felt like an outsider when Redditors raised the stakes in GameStop in the US to spoil the party for hedge funds betting on the stock to fall. And you pretty much feel the same when Elon Musk’s tweets impacted the fortunes of your American peers with Tesla’s shares.

But all that changed when fintech app Baraka unlocked the virtual trading ring for Middle East investors to buy stocks registered on American exchanges in a truly globalized market.

The app now allows residents in Bahrain, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Kuwait to pump their funds into stocks listed in the US and offers this revolutionary service without any commission. 

Despite this convenience and perks on offer, those unsure about trading stocks can use Baraka’s academy feature to find curated content, which educates users about investing.

 Giving a platform for beginners to start small

Irrespective of what Andrew Carnegie said about keeping all your eggs in one basket, millennials aren’t sure about investing all their cash in one industry when innovative ventures mushroom across the region. WealthFace’s newly launched app in the Middle East and the US has you covered through fractional shares if you seek to diversify investments with limited funds.

It may sound complicated, but fractional investing is very simple since it allows you to buy a small part of a stock or any asset while the firm acquires the rest for other people interested in buying it. This way, you get to own a part of a high-value stock without shelling out a big chunk of your savings, and you get to fetch stakes in multiple shares of bankable firms.

The app also comes with advanced fintech services, algorithms, and expertise from professionals in the market to provide portfolio management advice to amplify the profitability of your investments. 

 Making real estate affordable for young investors

Dubai’s real estate market is recovering swiftly after the pandemic-induced lull. It is set to shoot up, buoyed by foreign investments. But most don’t have the kind of capital to buy an entire plot of land or a flat in the UAE. That’s where fractional ownership comes in.

Regarding the future of investments, NFTs are bound to come up, and UAE-based blockchain Aqarchain.io is offering the opportunity to buy a piece of a real estate asset in Dubai in the form of a digital token instead of buying the entire property. Each NFT is an ownership certificate for one share in the piece of land and can be traded online without any additional charges.

 It allows people to become real estate investors irrespective of their income level since users can own property NFTs for as little as $500 and sell them with a few clicks for lucrative returns.

The innovative fintech apps are opening up the investment space for users of all ages and incomes using AI. Through fintech, anyone – from an entrepreneur to a salaried professional – can afford lucrative assets.

The ease of registering on these apps with few taps and staying up to date with market fluctuations through regular notifications can make investments easier.


Aiyub Dawood is a Senior Correspondent at Fast Company Middle East, who looks for practical application of technology. He explores the use of AI, innovation and data to solve everyday problems. More

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