Dubai: The UAE Banks Federation (UBF), a professional representative body comprising 48 member banks operating in the UAE, has released the full agenda on the Middle East Banking Forum.

Currently in its fifth edition, the forum is a premier annual event for the region’s banking and financial services industry and will be held on November 22, 2017 in Abu Dhabi.

Hosted by UBF in association with Financial Times Live and ‘The Banker’, and supported by the Central Bank of the UAE, the conference will gather senior industry executives to explore the theme ‘Harnessing the Forces of Global Disruption’. The UBF has confirmed that Dr Andrei Kirilenko, director of the Centre for Global Finance and Technology at the Imperial College Business School, will be the keynote speaker.

He will draw from his extensive scholarship to explore the megatrends that are disrupting the banking sector, such as technology, regulations and competition amongst others.

His speech will also point towards possible solutions to help banks get ahead of the curve and weather the challenges in ways that ensure strategic success for the industry and improved client satisfaction.

“As a flagship event, the Middle East Banking Forum will steer the conversations on banking and finance towards critical areas of advances and emerging trends. In line with the recently announced UAE Strategy for Artificial Intelligence (AI), a high topic on the agenda, financial institutions will have to further embrace the forces of technology, and [an] event like the ME Banking Forum is an important addition and an exceptional platform to explore the wide gamut of changes and ways to harness it,” said Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair, chairman of the UAE Banks Federation.

Michael Imeson, senior content editor at FT Live, and contributing editor of The Banker, is chairing the forum.

“Powerful forces are transforming banking, not only in the Middle East but throughout the world — so the theme of this year’s forum is harnessing those forces to positive effect,” Imeson said. “This is the fifth year running that the Financial Times and The Banker have partnered with the UAE Banks Federation to organise this conference.”

Following the keynote speech by Kirilenko, the event will offer a live stage interview on new financial institutions operating models that can facilitate success in the fast-changing environment. The candid discussion will explore some loopholes in traditional banking models, the influence of revolutionary technology and look into the crystal bowl as the industry braces for deeper integration of Big Data Artificial Intelligence (AI).

The forum will also set the stage for stimulating panel discussions led by distinguished industry experts. The first one is titled ‘Financing SMEs in the UAE and lessons to be learned from other countries’.

A second panel discussion titled ‘Dangers in cyberspace — what would it take to bring down a bank?’, will put the spotlight on hackers, their motivations and the challenges that banks should navigate to protect their clients from sophisticated hacking tools. The discussion will also steer into compliance with financial regulators and the challenges of keeping up with their demands.

Taking cue from the keynote speaker’s topic, a presentation about futuristic banking titled ‘The robo-banker: advanced analytics and artificial intelligence’ will go live to break down buzzwords like ‘automation’, ‘machine learning’ and ‘Big Data’. Elaborating on the future of banking and transactions, the event will highlight the critical role of ‘Enhancing the payment experience in a customer-centric environment’, and how the digitally connected lives of individuals opens up exciting opportunities for payments services providers.

The conference will conclude with a talk on ‘Capturing the power of technology’ by Ralph Hamers, CEO and chairman of the executive board of the ING Group. Hamers will shed light on the undisputed role of technology in helping banks unlock greater power from their operations and the role of tech-based components such as ‘robo-advisers’ and ‘blockchain’ in financial institutions.