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'Change your ways' says futurist as Bahrain gets ready for money talk.

Leading voices from the global payment sector gather in at the GCC Cards Summit in Bahrain (next week, November 1) to discuss and debate the future of cards with more than 20 leading speakers.

Internationally acclaimed evolution biologist, futurist and business consultant Dr Elisabet Sahtouris will keynote the conference with a broad evolutionary view of the human condition, showing how the process of globalisation fits into the evolutionary picture.

Showing Darwinian evolution theory to be only half of the evolutionary picture, while dominating economic theory, Dr Sahtouris will share why cooperation is as much a part of evolution as competition and very much on the immediate human agenda.

"We can learn from the current global challenges such as global warming, peak oil and financial system disasters, and attempt to find where the banking business, including cards, may, or could be, headed in the near future."

She suggests that it is the brave visionaries of the banking and finance industry who have the opportunity to build organisations of the future, but warned that some radical shifts must be made.

"The old albeit familiar ways will only lead to the same outcomes - just as we have witnessed in past months.

"Humans are capable of regaining the reverence for life, of replacing the drive to conquer with the will to cooperate, and of moulding institutions, including business corporations, into living systems," Dr Sahtouris said.

One of the Summit's supporters, Shankar Sharma, Chief Executive Officer, Arab Financial Services (AFS) said the cards industry is facing a set of fresh challenges as customer demographics and expectations change in line with shifts in technology and lifestyle.

"The sector has a responsibility to constantly redesign the payment portfolio as technology advances and customer behaviour evolves. Indeed, banks must shift their focus across product, marketing and customer service or else prepare to struggle to retain business."

Sharma stressed that change is the constant and traditional operators must embrace this if they want to be part of the growth in the payment market. AFS is on-board as the Summit's Platinum Sponsor.

Ali Abbas, Regional Consultant, MENA & Turkey for Euromonitor International said that numerous opportunities are now available to banks.

"The prepaid cards category is one of the highest growing categories in both card numbers and transaction volumes over the past five years, worldwide.

"In the UAE alone transactions have grown by 26 per cent in value and 28 per cent in volume from 2008, to reach AED725 million and four million transactions in 2009," Abbas said.

Talking ahead of the upcoming Summit, now in its second year, Premal Patel, Executive Director, Veritas Events, the Summit organiser suggested that the youth segment provides a massive opportunity for retail banking and that the industry must make a radical shift if it is to appeal to this profile.

Colin Loubser COO of NovoPay reaffirmed that the prepaid mechanism is ripe for massive growth as government initiatives combine with commercial opportunities of usage in the Middle East.

Loubser, who is considered a global expert on prepaid opportunities said that the prepaid segment is predicted to drive 40 percent of total consumer spend globally and the region is no exception.

More than 150 regional and international players are expected to attend the two-day Cards Summit at the Movenpick Hotel Bahrain from November 1-3, 2010.

2009 CPI Financial. All rights reserved.

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Publication:CPI Financial
Geographic Code:7BAHR
Date:Oct 31, 2010
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