The rise of financial technologies (fintech) has opened an array of opportunities for smart cities to develop and thrive. Especially in the light of the pandemic, with an increasing need for social distancing and contactless transactions, fintech gained substantial ground.
With the expansion of financial technologies, digital payments are expected to trickle down to different smart city sectors and create a transformative effect. For instance, in the transportation sector, contactless payments have been growing significantly where people can pay for parking, scooters, or other rideshares with their mobile phones.
Jova Digital, an advanced smart city fintech company, is an industry leader in the application of digital payments in smart city solutions. The managing partner, John Yanyali, diverted Jova Digital’s vision to bring embedded financial technology solutions in multiple industry sectors. Started out as an entrepreneur who jumped into the business world in the technology space, John gained extensive experience in leading many emerging disruptive technology projects. He served as the chief operating officer of a large technology service provider in Europe and under his leadership, the company became the largest manufacturer and developer of custom hardware and software systems in the Middle East and North Africa. Following his success, he continued to expand into the Smart Industry, with a focus on the energy, finance, infrastructure, transportation, and security industries, joining Jova Digital as an investor.
Technology is developing at an accelerated rate and digital technologies are no longer used in isolation. Rather, networks, connectivity, and digital ecosystems are driving change for consumers and industries alike. The smart city stands at the apex of this development. Jova Digital recognized how fintech is shaping the development of smart cities, particularly in those rapidly growing urban centers in the Middle East, and decided to expand with its smart city solutions. When it comes to harnessing financial technology to foster the creation of smart cities, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) remains ahead of the curve. Jova Digital drove this change by undertaking one of the largest digital transformations in the region.
For many institutions external to the UAE, partnerships are the best way to enter the region. In 2019, Jova Digital announced its partnership with the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) and NIPS and launched its first smart city project, Smart Teller, under UAE's Smart Government initiative. Smart Teller, a self-service kiosk, offers a wide range of services such as identity cards, drivers' licenses, residence permit card issuing, verification, and renewal. With the project's success in the UEA, it has attracted the attention of many other international countries. The initiative has made life more convenient by encouraging contactless, affordable, sustainable, and efficient payment-related operations for its citizens.
Smart Dubai and Digital Abu Dhabi lead smart city initiatives across the region. The initiative seeks to harness artificial intelligence, big data, and blockchain to drive the United Arab Emirates' economy while achieving the ultimate goal of paperless transactions. Many experts agree that fintech innovation is a must for any city to become a "smart city." Thus, the two cities are leading the way for others to follow.
One important aspect that smart city development and fintech innovation has in common is their determination to cut bureaucracy. A city that manages to enable speedy and inexpensive international transfers will also enable its citizens with greater access to the global market. Furthermore, fintech innovations of the past have demonstrated their success by simplifying procedures that became unnecessarily complex over time, such as traditional banking services. The forward-looking fintech services opened doors for online shopping and easy cross-border money transfers by providing the same product or service to consumers in quicker, easier, and more affordable means.
Transparency is another important factor that allows consumers to have faith in fintech services. With the current growth potential of fintech, it is considered one of the essential pillars of successful smart city development.
Cultivating fintech in a smart city is a no-brainer. Coupling finance, technology, and smart city solutions can help empower citizens. A fintech game plan encourages more international business activities within a city, conveniences its population (though after a tough period of education), and most importantly, garnishes governments with a selection of financial technology solutions to adopt into their core operations.