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The UAE has grabbed the headlines in the past decade as a fintech and online trading hub. Funnelling millions and millions of dollars into fintech, the country leads the fintech revolution. Are we facing the rise of a new Wall Street in the heart of the Middle East? Is Dubai the next big financial hub? What is the future of online trading in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena)?

To answer all these questions, we sat down with George Panagiotou, CEO of Ultimate Fintech, the organiser of iFX EXPO. Bringing a top-down view of Mena’s evolution as a fintech and finance hotspot, he unveils the main trends market players must look out for this year.

What are the trends shaping the Mena online trading market?

Mena is a land of opportunity where technological innovation is the status quo. This is partially due to a surge in the use of mobile technology. Everyone has a smartphone these days. As a result, more and more people have easier access to trading platforms and brokerage offerings. In turn, brokerage firms have gone mobile-first, which gives them the edge to attract and retain more traders.

Integrated trading solutions have gained significant traction amongst well-established and start-up brokers in recent years. This is due to the flexibility they provide. 

Offering a single view of the entire trading activity at the click of a button, they offload the complexities associated with know-your-client (KYC) and trade reporting procedures, leading to increased efficiency.

- George Panagiotou, CEO of Ultimate Fintech

So, on one hand, we see an online trading space centred on mobile technology and, on the other, a B2B landscape shaped by technological flexibility and increased operational efficiency.

What’s the future of online trading in the Mena region?

The future is technology enablement and it’s already here. As financiers are looking to serve different verticals from retail, to institutional, to corporate through a single platform and a single pricing engine, umbrella solutions allowing for integrated risk management and liquidity access are on the radar of financial firms of all sizes.

From a retail perspective, we can see a spike in interest for embedded investing and multi-asset trading. Traders look for extra convenience, they don’t want to switch between platforms depending on their asset choice. This is the main driver of innovation amongst brokerage firms, which pivot to one-stop investment management platforms offering access to both exchange-traded instruments and over-the-counter (OTC) markets.

How is technology transforming online trading in MENA and further afield?

As I mentioned earlier, technology is the key to everything in online trading globally. From seamless access to liquidity and its efficient multichannel distribution, advanced AI-driven solutions that facilitate personalised portfolio building will drive the industry forward over the next ten years at least.

What advice would you give to those starting out in online trading?

What works for one trader may not work for another. One thing applies regardless of trading preferences and styles: staying informed about the latest market moves. Trading education is so important and platform operators should focus on increasing access to educational resources aimed at helping traders on their journey.

Financial firms should equip investors with the right decision-support tools to navigate the complexities of the financial markets, such as trading calculators, simulators, etc. Education and training through webinars and courses are paramount.

At the same time, traders should also have a general understanding of regulatory compliance so they can appreciate the importance of trading with a licensed and regulated brokerage firm.

Can you tell us more about iFX EXPO Dubai 2024 and its significance?

iFX EXPO was started with one goal in mind: to bring major players from finance and fintech together. Now, more than ten years down the line, iFX EXPO has become the largest gathering open to B2B players - from online trading to fintech, to regtech globally and a launchpad for financial firms looking for expansion.

Seeing the traction iFX EXPO Dubai had last year, we are making it even bigger this year by opening our doors to the retail audience as well. One of the highlights of the upcoming edition will be the Traders Arena, which will serve as a go-to platform or knowledge hub, if you like, for traders of all levels to learn and engage in tailored content.

Additionally, we have an impressive line-up of speakers with backgrounds in technology, trading, blockchain, paytech and more. Not to give you any spoilers, we’re expecting the upcoming expo to be the best yet. Having said that, I would like to invite readers seeking a unique event experience in the online trading space to register at I look forward to seeing you there.

This content comes from Reach by Gulf News, which is the branded content team of GN Media.