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Etisalat Group has partnered with banking giant First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) and UAE conglomerates ADQ and Alpha Dhabi Holding to launch a new digital bank called ‘Wio’, the company has announced.

The digital financial platform will be headquartered in Abu Dhabi and is conceived as a “next generation” banking services that are “secure, transparent and convenient,” according to the company’s filing to the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX).  The Central Bank of the UAE has granted an in-principle approval to launch a new digital banking platform, which will be called Wio. The total invested capital in the Abu Dhabi-based Wio is AED 2.3 billion ($626 million) in addition to “in-kind contribution”, according to ADQ statement.

The telecom giant will have a 25% stake in the digital bank. Etisalat has said an agreement for the establishment of the bank was already signed on with the partner companies.

“This initiative brings significant value creation potential for Etisalat Group over the long term,” the company said.

Led by globally experienced FinTech experts, banking professionals and technology specialists, Wio will offer customers in the UAE a fully digital banking choice with tailored products and services to meet their lifestyles and needs. Wio will soon launch a Beta version that will initially provide small and medium-sized businesses with an innovative, engaging customer-centric experience underpinned by security, transparency and convenience.

The digital banking platform’s primary shareholders ADQ and Alpha Dhabi, one of the fast-growing investments holding companies in the Middle East, own a combined stake of 65% and First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB), one of the world’s largest and safest financial institutions, holds 10%.

Khalifa Hassan Al Shamsi, CEO, Etisalat consumer digital, said, “The fintech industry is a key driver of digital transformation in the UAE and has grown exponentially due to changing consumer payment behavior as well as new tech-driven convenient offerings.  Customers are increasingly adopting contactless payments in physical stores as well as using fully digital financial products.   Building on our fintech portfolio, the Wio partnership is part of our strategy to meet the growing consumer demands with 360-degree products and services that enhance their daily digital lives. We want to empower consumers with services that are easily accessible, and we are committed to ensuring Wio delivers optimum connectivity and an unrivalled user experience.”

H.E. Mohamed Hassan Alsuwaidi, chief executive officer of ADQ, said, “As part of our efforts to future-proof Abu Dhabi’s economy, we are committed to enhancing the financial services sector. By delivering secure, transparent and seamless access to a cutting-edge, customer-centric digital banking platform, Wio’s unique business model will further strengthen the UAE’s digital economy that is already supported by robust infrastructure and progressive regulations.”

Eng. Hamad Salem Mohamed Al-Ameri, managing director and CEO of Alpha Dhabi, commented, “The upcoming launch of Wio will be significant for Abu Dhabi as it will help establish the emirate’s leadership in financial services in the digital age. Our AED 850 million investment in Wio is part of the strategy we announced last December to invest in promising sectors within and outside the UAE. Wio presents a strong investment opportunity for Alpha Dhabi, and we look forward to working together to support its growth.”

Hana Al Rostamani, Group chief executive officer, First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB), added, “FAB is proud to be a partner at the forefront of Abu Dhabi’s digital agenda, creating broader value for our stakeholders through strategic partnerships and initiatives built to innovate and inspire the future of financial services in the UAE.  The launch of Wio represents an important next step in that journey, bringing a new and innovative approach to banking.”

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