GCC set for fintech surge, reveals Mastercard study

David Parker, Co-Chief Investment Officer at Bahrain EDB.
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Updated 21 May 2020

GCC set for fintech surge, reveals Mastercard study

The GCC is set for a surge in the use of fintech apps during the current global health crisis as new figures from Mastercard reveal a 70 percent increase in the use of contactless payments in the MEA region.

Consumers are increasingly turning away from physical offerings during the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, with startups and financial institutions continuing to offer services through digital channels.

According to research by Mastercard, 70 percent of respondents in the Middle East and Africa are now using contactless payments, with 81 percent confirming they will continue to do so once the pandemic is over.

David Parker, co-chief investment officer for the financial services sector at Bahrain Economic Development Board, said the GCC is set to see a trend toward fintech platforms in the coming months.

“At a time when few customers can access physical services, fintech platforms across the GCC are experiencing a surge in use — something we anticipate continuing well into the summer months.”


Ascott prepares for growth in post-COVID-19 era

Updated 01 June 2020

Ascott prepares for growth in post-COVID-19 era

CapitaLand’s wholly owned lodging business unit, The Ascott Limited (Ascott), will review the design of its lodging products and services to ensure they are future-ready for continued growth in a post COVID-19 landscape.

Leveraging the existing design strengths of Ascott’s serviced residences, it aims to redefine the guest experience to take advantage of emerging trends such as the increased popularity of working from home, deeper health and safety concerns, and a rapidly digitizing world.

Kevin Goh, chief executive, lodging, CapitaLand Group and chief executive, Ascott, said: “Ascott’s serviced residences have remained resilient amid COVID-19. We continue to be the accommodation of choice by providing a safe haven for our guests who have placed their trust in Ascott. To cement Ascott’s position as a dominant lodging player and deliver more value for our guests and business partners, we are taking steps to ready Ascott for a post COVID-19 landscape. Ascott is reviewing every touchpoint within the living and workspaces of our apartments to tap on the work-from-home trend. We are also improving our digital solutions and looking at leveraging smarter technologies to provide value and safety to our guests.”

As global and domestic travel restrictions ease, the group has launched “Ascott Cares” across its properties, to reassure guests and staff of the stringent cleanliness and hygiene measures in place, as the global properties begin to welcome new and returning guests home. These measures will also be effective across Ascott’s properties within the Middle East and Turkey: Ascott Park Place Dubai, Citadines Metro Central Dubai, Ascott Tahlia Jeddah, Ascott Sari Jeddah, Citadines Al-Salamah Jeddah, Spectrums Residence Jeddah, Ascott Rafal Olaya Riyadh, Ascott Corniche Al-Khobar, Somerset Panorama Muscat, Somerset Al-Fateh Bahrain, Somerset Maslak Istanbul, and Somerset West Bay Doha.

Vincent Miccolis, Ascott’s regional GM for Middle East, Africa, Turkey and India, said: “We have implemented enhanced sanitization measures across our regional properties in the Middle East and Turkey. These include daily temperature checks, and governmental directives on leisure and health facilities. In addition, the obligatory regulations of face masks, gloves, and hand sanitizers are in place, while sterilizing efforts have been ramped up across apartments, lobbies and public utilities. Ascott has always been a trusted brand and we look forward to the same momentum, assuring our long and short stay guests of a care-free and safe haven when they come home to Ascott.”

To tap in to the work-from-home trend, Ascott is looking at upgrading its design to create a more productive workspace within the serviced apartment. Improvements to the overall ergonomics of the workspace may include better task lighting, better use of space and appropriate wall features suited for videoconferencing or webcasting.

Digital solutions and technologies may also be further deployed to provide convenience, value and safety to guests. The use of sensors at Ascott properties can offer better safety through thermal scanning or to track footfall and crowds to facilitate better safe distancing measures, as well as smarter room energy and water management.

Ascott will also increase the adoption of mobile technology, including the launch of a new mobile app later this year. A one-stop service, the app will offer guests contactless services such as contactless entry to their apartments, payments, check-in and check-out. It can also provide seamless in-room service and smart controls, management of Ascott Star Rewards loyalty points or redemption of special flash deals.