Mirna Sleiman, Founder & CEO, Fintech Galaxy

Mirna Sleiman: Impacting Lives by Bringing Financial Inclusion

Great business leaders have to adapt to different styles and attributes of leadership based on the different circumstances they face. However, the one aspect of leadership that never changes is the ability to lead from the front by taking responsibility. Today, leaders are driven by innovation and passion to create positive impact through their talents, skills, and abilities. One such innovative and passionate leader is Mirna Sleiman. Mirna is the Founder and CEO of Fintech Galaxy, the MENA region’s open finance and innovation platform. She is advising governments and financial institutions on digital transformation programs. She has more than 15 years of experience in innovation programs, government affairs, investor relations, journalism, strategic digital communications, and global partnerships.

Delivering Inclusive Financial Services

Fintech Galaxy was founded in the United Arab Emirates in 2018 as a regional platform. From day one Mirna’s focus was to use the Fintech Galaxy brand as an enabler of innovation, so she had the dual responsibility of creating a platform and a space for the industry to come together, and the everyday job of building its own brand and developing a scalable business. It was clear to Mirna before she founded Fintech Galaxy that moving the needle on financial inclusion was critical for Arab world. There was also a need to connect global fintechs with a regional open finance platform that includes an API sandbox, a fintech marketplace, and enables cross-border open innovation. These important objectives, which ultimately are all about creating a future that delivers inclusive financial services, serve as a long-term guide and they underpin much of what Mirna does day-to-day.

Facilitating Integration of Financial Institutions and Fintech Companies

Fintech Galaxy fuels innovation in financial services, drives ecosystem collaboration and facilitates integration between financial institutions and fintech companies. From scouting to deployment, Fintech Galaxy aims to build future of financial services across the 22 Arab countries. The Fintech Galaxy Open Banking API sandbox enables development, testing and deployment of fintech solutions, offers a marketplace that connects institutions to thousands of fintechs from across the globe, and delivers matchmaking and crowdsourcing capabilities that solve customer pain points, ultimately spurring disruptive and transformative innovation across the financial services industry.

Accelerating Move to Cloud-based Innovation

Mirna opines that the pandemic has clearly contributed to the acceleration of digital transformation across every conceivable industry, and the way that organizations interact with consumers. The move to Cloud, which was already well on its way, is expedited, thanks to the emergence of myriad new AI-powered solutions and services. AI is now better understood by more people, thanks to the behavior shifts we have witnessed as a result of the pandemic.

Whereas before Covid-19, many people were aware of AI and its connection to 4IR possibilities, but now market is in a place where businesses – particularly service providers – have been forced through circumstance to understand what it delivers, and in some ways forced to sharply focus on what these technologies are and how they improve what they do.

The reality is that cloud-based platforms are a no-brainer in a post pandemic environment. Open finance platforms, in particular, offer a level of connectivity and immediacy that was impossible a few years ago. Businesses can pick up innovations, adapt them, trial new approaches, and launch new products and services faster and with more precision than ever before. Businesses have a duty to engage with new cloud-based innovation platforms fully and competently to futureproof what they do and serve their customers well.

Providing the Enabling Work Environment

About work culture, Mirna believes that if businesses don’t have a positive work culture they don’t have positive colleagues. When Mirna hires somebody, she looks for the personality and the attitude, the right skills, and the right outlook: a can-do, passionate, and ambitious individual. She then wants to provide them with the most positive, can-do, enabling environment within which to succeed. She believes in having an open-door policy and a fearless culture that says, ‘never be afraid to ask, to question, or do’.

Embracing New ways of Doing Things

According to Mirna, the key to sustainability is innovation and passion. She never loses sight of why she founded Fintech Galaxy: to impact lives and bring financial inclusion to the Arab World. To achieve this, she stays grounded and accessible by listening, learning, and watching as much as she talks and does. This reflects having an open mind to collaborate with industry partners, work with regulators, and understand the needs of the startup community. Embracing new ways of doing things is what Mirna preaches, and as leaders it is of utmost importance that we practice it too.

Being Open to Learn

In her advice to emerging CEOs, she says, “Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Find your voice, build your niche, and get noticed. This is not about ego, but about finding your place within the industry so that you can navigate towards the right people and ideas. In ‘normal’ times, I would work hard to attend panel discussions, speak at forums, and share ideas and experiences with my peers. That’s incredibly useful because there is always somebody else out there with a new perspective to learn from. The beauty of the digital economy is we can now do all of this – and more frequently – through webinars and other online forums.”