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The Middle East has experienced consistent growth of digital banks in recent years. Many incumbent banks have grasped the opportunity and launched their stand-alone digital banks such as ila Bank by ABC Bank in Bahrain, Pepper by Leumi bank in Israel and Liv by Emirates NBD in the UAE.

Based on our challenger bank database covering over 400 neo banks worldwide, we created an overview on the Middle East neo bank landscape with the UAE representing the major hub for banking innovation.

As opposed to digital banks in other regions, Middle East neo banks usually offer a rather complete range of financial products, as full replacements for incumbent banks. Despite the growth of recent years, there is still much potential for further growth in a largely paper-based environment, driven by changing consumer behavior for COVID-19 and new regulation such as the digital-only banking charter by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA). Because many players are based in relatively small home markets, many are eying international expansion across the region.

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