Digital disruption is exploding across the Middle East, North Africa, Pakistan and Turkey (MENAPT) region. With some of the highest smartphone penetration rates in the world, digitisation across these markets is being driven by new technologies, consumers, governments and businesses alike. For treasurers already operating in this market, or those looking to support their organisation’s growth plans into it, there are exciting opportunities to embrace this digitisation wave, improve workflows, optimise working capital, and deliver even greater strategic value to the business.
A number of misconceptions exist about the MENAPT region, not least that the local economic and business outlook is clouded by geopolitical instability. Certainly, there have been challenges, even in relatively stable territories such as Qatar – and of course the commodity markets have given the oil-producing nations something of a rough ride over the past few years, creating reserve and foreign exchange issues for many. Nevertheless, there is far more to MENAPT than meets the eye, and in recent years, the region has done much to part itself from the stereotypes of yesteryear.
As an example, the governments of oil producing economies across the region have become far more visionary, setting out clear plans to diversify away from their dependency on ‘black gold’. To this end, significant gains have been made in the region’s commercial and financial markets. In particular, there has been substantial investment – in terms of money, effort and creativity – in both digital and physical infrastructure across MENAPT. Doing so is both facilitating and encouraging a significant amount of further investment from corporates as they seek to develop and optimise their own systems and channels of delivery.
Box 1: Juggling treasury priorities
As the groundwork for a new digital future in MENAPT continues, corporates, of course, have other issues with which to contend, notably around optimising internal structures and developing efficiencies that work in harmony with the new digital way of thinking.