Prashant Shrivastava, executive director at Tarabut Gateway tells us about open banking strategies.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Prashant Shrivastava: Covid-19 has certainly brought about a new set of challenges to our lives; however, it also presents new opportunities to re-look the way we went about our day-to-day how we can improve on that, and the same is true with building resilient business models.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you joined Tarabut Gateway.
Prashant Shrivastava: In the past 25 years before joining Tarabut Gateway, I have worked heavily with banks and financial institutions across the globe in delivering transformational projects. In 2004, I was running my own business, a banking software services & product company, for over a decade. The company was focused on delivering core banking & omnichannel banking technologies across APAC, EMEA, & the USA. I helped to scale it up to a medium enterprise.
In 2017, I met with Abdulla Almoayed, CEO and Founder of Tarabut Gateway, at a banking conference, and that’s where I was first introduced to Tarabut Gateway, or better said, it was just a concept back then. Given my experience in this space and my love for taking on new challenges and creating meaningful disruption, it was an opportunity that certainly could not go to waste, which brings me here today. Currently, I lead and oversee the execution of Tarabut Gateway’s overall strategy in driving digital transformation across Bahrain and achieving success in delivering commercial targets and operational delivery of all TG’s commercial activities.
How does Tarabut Gateway innovate?
Prashant Shrivastava: When we looked into the financial services sector, we identified a huge gap in MENA; the lack of personalization of products and services. While financial institutions sit on an incredible amount of financial data, the products and services are still a ‘one-size-fits-all. Financial data is one of the most , if not the most , underutilized kinds of data. Financial Data such as income levels, spending behavior, and saving habits can be utilized to tailor propositions to meet the need of the customer. Open Banking helps with addressing that.
When we first started in 2018, we identified the lack of a robust infrastructure to support fintech in their operations and connecting them to the ecosystem; hence it was important for us that Tarabut Gateway be built as a collaborative platform. Tarabut Gateway enables collaboration between financial institutions and fintech to build innovative products together with faster delivery to market.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Prashant Shrivastava: We’ve witnessed how the demand for easy-to-use and personalized financial services grew immensely with the pandemic. Therefore, pressurizing banks and financial institutions to respond to these changes in customer expectations. What also became more apparent is the benefits Open Banking can bring to consumers and financial institutions. By understanding their customers, financial institutions can benefit from new revenue streams while also achieving higher retention rates. Consequently, due to the benefits Open Banking is able to unfold, regulators across MENA have been prioritizing the adoption of Open Banking on their agenda.
We are currently focusing our efforts on expanding our operations and product line offerings. In the past year, we have managed to set up our offices in the UAE and expanded our TG team with professionals from across the globe from London to the UAE and Bahrain. Our natural expansion progression would be to focus next on Saudi Arabia and the wider areas. With the recent seed-funding of $ 13 million, we also look to investing in the latest technological advancements to ensure best-in-class platforms and services.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Prashant Shrivastava: At Tarabut Gateway, we value our team members as they are our greatest asset. During the pandemic, we have managed to grow our team further due to the nature of our tech-enabled remote business model and our adaptability and flexibility to accommodate the changes that the pandemic has brought about in a seamless manner. As a result, we were able to grow during these times without impacting our employees nor our customers.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Prashant Shrivastava: As a B2B company, we focus on managing relationships in the sector and collaborating with stakeholders in the ecosystem. We believe in community work, and it is our mission at TG to raise awareness on Open Banking as it is still a quite nascent topic for many. We continuously conduct research and have frequent sit-downs with our clients to better understand the market pain-points to better address them.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Prashant Shrivastava: For us, 2020 was a gamechanger. While we experienced a lot of change, what remained constant was our dedication to hiring a talented and diverse pool of extraordinary people, building the best-in-class technology, and forging strong partnerships with leading financial institutions in MENA. Within a span of a year, we were able to expand our operations to 5 different jurisdictions opened up new offices in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. We have also grown our product offerings.
Your final thoughts?
Prashant Shrivastava: The Open Banking industry is a catalyst for transforming the way banks and FinTechs in the region interact with one another. With regional regulators quickly adopting it in their strategies, Tarabut Gateway provides the infrastructure which enables enhanced collaborations between financial institutions and an increasingly agile and flourishing regional