Think of a place that’s bold and exciting, that’s rich with investment, that’s full of opportunities for businesses and entrepreneurs, and chances are that Dubai, the glittering heart of the seven United Arab Emirates, will spring to mind. So it’s no surprise that we, as one of the world’s leading cross-border payments providers, are opening a new office in Dubai.

Rapid development

Dubai has grown rapidly over the past 20 years, with skyscrapers rising from the desert sands and ex-pats pouring in from all over the world to take advantage of thrilling new business opportunities. It’s now a significant business capital, thanks in no small part to significant investment from the Dubai government, and a gateway to the Middle East markets.

And just as Dubai has experienced a meteoric rise over a relatively short period, so have we, beginning life in a basement in South East London in 2004, run by two entrepreneurs with ten years of banking experience and a determination to give customers a real alternative to the big banks. Since then, WorldFirst has grown to become a global team of over 650 employees with offices in London, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan and the Netherlands.

The new Dubai office forms part of our plans to extend operations and services into the Middle East. The new office will serve small and medium-sized family businesses, e-commerce traders and private clients in the region, enabling them to collect, convert and make payments anywhere in the world.

Fulfilling the financial needs of the Middle East

The new WorldFirst office represents a boon to the Dubai business community, which has increasingly complex and demanding financial needs. More than 90% of companies in Dubai fit the SME category, and play a massive role in the economy of the emirate. Indeed, the government sees them as the backbone of the Dubai economy and is stepping up efforts to support them, such as reducing insurance costs and paying within 30 instead of 90-day terms, providing SMEs with the additional liquidity of AED1.6 billion ($436 million) per annum.

Central to this initiative is the Expo 2020 project – the first-ever World Expo to be held in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia. A government initiative, with a commitment of awarding 20% of the value of all contracts to SMEs, Expo 2020 has so far invested AED2.4 billion ($650 million) in the SME sector. It is set to introduce a new wave of tenders that will depend mainly on SMEs for delivery.

Providing an opportunity for growth

With a growing number of these businesses looking to trade all over the world, we will help simplify the process for its clients in the Middle East by offering access to multi-currency accounts. These accounts are free to open and deliver a single exchange rate based on a tiered pricing structure and providing clients with transparent market-leading exchange rates with no hidden fees. Transaction rates can be as low as 0.15% to a maximum of 0.5% under the tiered pricing structure, which is among the most cost-effective in the market.

The move highlights our dedication to supporting the growing e-commerce market in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia region, which is projected to be worth $97 billion by 2020. As Jonathan Quin, Chief Executive Officer at WorldFirst, explains:

“We see significant opportunity in the Middle East, with an entire generation of SMEs and e-commerce businesses looking for the best financial services to support them as they grow. The combination of our high-quality service, leading technology and competitive pricing means we are perfectly positioned to support this entrepreneurial group with all their payment and money transfer needs.”

Financial hub

The Dubai WorldFirst team will be led by Adam Banks, Principle Representative, who has worked at Argentex LLP and Equinix in the past. The new office is based in the financial hub of the region, the Dubai International Finance Centre (DIFC), which is the home of financial innovation in the Middle East.

Arif Amiri, Chief Executive Officer at DIFC Authority, has welcomed the arrival of WorldFirst. ‘We are pleased to welcome WorldFirst to the Dubai International Finance Centre as the business joins our community of over 100 fintech firms that have chosen the DIFC as their hub in the Middle East,’ he commented. ‘The move is in line with our wider strategy to support Dubai’s economic vision as it looks to diversify the financial services industry, identifying opportunities to accelerate growth within the financial technology arena and attracting pioneering global brands to the centre.’

Exciting times lie ahead for WorldFirst and the growing client base in the Middle East. Whether you’re based in Dubai, Dublin or Durham, WorldFirst can help you with your cross-border payment needs.

We’re powering a revolution in global commerce and remittances by making the movement of money faster, easier, safer and cheaper – why not be a part of it?