Banks, fintechs, financial solution vendors and startups were present in full force at the Third Iran Transaction Exhibition (ITE) in Tehran on Tuesday.
Sponsored by Shaparak, the entity in charge of Iran’s payment network, along with private sector companies, national banking associations and Tehran Municipality, the exhibition was inaugurated by Mohammad Morad Bayat, chief executive of FABA—a government-owned center for promotion of electronic banking in charge of ITE 2017–which will run through Thursday.
“Fifty-six startup companies have taken part in this year’s event,” he said, adding that fintechs are not banks’ enemies, as the future will be one of cooperation between the two.
In addition to industry pundits and players, a few foreign companies and a Swiss delegation, banking officials were also present to mark the event’s inauguration.
Kourosh Parvizian, Bank Parsian CEO and head of the Association of Private Banks and Credit Institutions that also joined the exhibition’s sponsors, focused on bank fees and renewed his call on the parliament and other policymakers to devise better and more comprehensive fees to boost financial institutions’ income.
The recently appointed deputy economy minister for banking and insurance affairs who had recently become a member of the top financial decision-making body Money and Credit Council, Abdolrahman Nadimi Bushehri, next took to the podium and stressed that Iran needs to fill its financial technological gaps, as the sector had been hamstrung by years of targeted sanctions.
“By trusting our youths and the new businesses they provide, we must prepare the grounds for their continued activities,” he said.
The Iranian Parliament also had a representative in the exhibition in Ali Akbar Karimi, the deputy head of Majlis Economic Commission, who said the government and lawmakers have assigned a whole chapter specifically to electronic banking in their twin bills aimed at reforming the beleaguered banking system, which are currently under review.
“Measures considered as part of the reform push will address the main issue currently plaguing electronic banking in the country, i.e. lack of sufficient and comprehensive regulation, and work in line with incentivizing more investments in the sector,” the lawmaker added.
ITE 2017 also played host to a 12-member delegation from the Swiss Economic Forum, the Central European nation’s leading business conference founded in 1998.
CEO Dominik Isler said his delegation travels to an emerging economy each year and found that in an unpredictable world that is presently battling “political turmoil”, Iran has managed to showcase a positive economic performance and boasts a good “entrepreneurial spirit”.
Variety of Services, Facilitators
Various payment systems, banking solutions, real-estate financial services and insurance facilitators were showcased by a host of banks both private and state-owned, millennial-led fintechs and fledgling startups.
Bank Melli Iran, the nation’s largest bank, was in the exhibition with a focus on its payment services provider Behpardakht Mellat that currently ranks 20th on the list of top 150 acquirers worldwide with over 2.7 billion transactions in 2016.
In addition to its mobile banking app, it also pushed to attract more attention toward three kinds of credit cards that were first launched by banks last year at the behest of the Central Bank of Iran.
Parsian E-Commerce Company, which ranks 35th in top global acquirers, was the main representative of Bank Parsian in the event, with the lender’s electronic banking mobile app and various credit and debit cards making their presence felt.
Bank Tejarat, whose CEO Mohammad Ebrahim Moqadam was present in the inaugural ceremony, was represented by Simorgh Tejarat, its banking solutions company founded in 2011. The company provides electronic wallet and multiple payment services.
The bank promoted Sabzpardaz (meaning Greenpay), the only application with an eye toward environment in the exhibition, which allows high-rises to scrap paper bills and minimize their energy use.
Bank Pasargad unveiled Keypod, its Near Field Communications-based offline wallet designed to use SIM cards provided by Iran’s second largest mobile operator MTN Irancell to safely and quickly conduct micro transactions for Android users. Keypod is a product of Fanap Payment, the electronic payments solutions company affiliated with Bank Pasargad.
Bank Maskan, the agent bank of the housing sector, was represented by Navaco Information Technology Company, which provides the lender with technology to electronically receive road tolls in addition to providing an electronic wallet and payment services.
Among the fintechs and startups, many up-and-coming names, often represented by young millennial CEOs themselves, strived to attract the attention of potential investors. They mostly offered not-too-dissimilar payment services with different interfaces.
Dongi Pal was one of the fintechs offering crowd funding abilities while Moneyar, a relatively more established firm that acts as a messaging-based social network for group payments, made a renewed presence.
Bimito, the only well-known startup allowing people to buy insurance online, had a pavilion to offer details on how to acquire premiums with more than a dozen Iranian insurers.
In the housing sector, Apartemana allows residents of multi-storied apartment buildings to collectively and transparently register, manage, declare and clear their monthly bills.
MelkBaMa (meaning real-estate with us) represented a group of fintech startups operating in real-estate finance, investments, negotiations and deals.
RADIB Accelerator Group, voiced by its young chief executive, unveiled the company’s two new products that could have financial applications, namely a firewall aimed at preventing and tracing cyber attacks in real time and an extra cheap, disposable super-focus lens for cellphones that can identify fake banknotes among other uses.