UAE's Century Financial to launch new funds, AI trading platform and property crowd funding site
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UAE’s Century Financial to launch new funds, AI trading platform and property crowdfunding site

UAE’s Century Financial to launch new funds, AI trading platform and property crowdfunding site

The investment firm is diversifying its business with plans to also launch in Saudi soon, says Ali AbdulKareem Ali, senior executive director at Century Financial


What are investors in the UAE seeking at present?

The UAE’s fundamentally strong economic position is set to grow – indicators such as FDI inflows are anticipated to increase from $20bn in 2020 to $22bn in 2022 and this will result in a high level of investments in capital markets and other potential investment channels.

Investors nowadays have also become more tech-savvy; the Gen Z and millennial investors have an inclination for modern investment products like cryptocurrency, NFTs etc.

In line with that, at Century, we are diversifying into modern tech-based business models, which are sustainable.

We are building our trading platform and also introducing ‘Quantifier’, an AI and machine learning-based platform to provide data-driven decisions to traders. It relies on computer algorithms and advanced software to manage investment portfolios and will provide market analysis, education, signals, news and copy trading. Powered by internal intelligence tools, it will support beginners, professional traders, market analysts, money managers, and brokers.

What are the main new trends you see in the market?

Investors often see environmental, social, and governance (ESG) and sharia-compliant products as a convenient way of making ethical investments. Nowadays, many investors have started to integrate ESG factors into their investment portfolios and they take investment decisions while applying these non-financial factors as part of the assessment process, along with identifying potential material risks and growth opportunities.

The impact is visible: ESG bond listings – by sovereign issuers, multinational banks, and a UAE corporate issuer – now amount to $11.4bn and are continuously growing. Even for sharia-compliant financial products, the demand has been augmented in Covid times, with these products outperforming their counterparts in offering good returns.

For Century, what are your plans ahead?

We are now looking to expand in the neighbouring geographies. We are currently in the process of acquiring a licence in Saudi Arabia for dealing in international financial markets. With the kingdom’s economy liberalising, it has become an interesting region that has attracted international eyeballs and is anticipated to be a new investment haven parallel to the UAE.

We are also planning to explore other GCC countries.

We have also been diversifying our business via our products and services.

Century Bank Brokers (CBB), formed last year, specialises in providing the distribution of retail and commercial banking solutions in the UAE by partnering with banks, non-banking financial companies, and other financial institutions. The products are directed to attract retail customers as well as SMEs and other trading firms that handle exports and imports.

With the strong growth in the number of ultra-high net worth individuals in the GCC countries, Century Private Wealth (CPW) has been formed to offer these investors customised solutions and manage their portfolios. CPW is a licenced firm based in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and regulated by the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA). CPW is also coming up with a new fund in the first quarter of 2022, particularly for high-net-worth individuals.

Century is also planning to launch a couple of other funds, including a J&K infrastructure fund that will focus on investment in infrastructure projects in Jammu and Kashmir in India.

We are also keen on forming a fund that will invest in startups and new businesses. It would be on similar lines to venture capital investments in early-stage startups that are using technology to solve major pain points in business.

Century is also venturing into insurtech, which will be an insurance services provider at the retail and commercial levels.

We are also in the process of setting up a real estate crowdfunding platform which will provide investors with a digital platform to invest in income-generating properties. We are considering it to be channelised through DIFC. The way the platform will typically operate is that a special purpose vehicle (SPV) will be created to hold a property, and then it can be fractionalised and offered to the retail investors. End-users will receive the capital gain – from rentals and as well as from the sale of the property. Since it is a new concept in the region, we are hopeful of getting considerable traction, especially among retail and small investors.

As we all are aware, the UAE is poised to become a global hub for cryptocurrency. We are also keen on crypto and its increasing popularity amongst investors. Century is currently exploring the regulatory aspects for setting up a coin exchange in the region.

As part of a new vertical, we have also launched Boomer 11, a fan engagement fantasy sports app in the GCC, India, and other Asian nations. We have successfully completed the pilot for getting the insights related to user behavioural patterns, and we are now coming up with a new and improved mobile app and will launch it in December 2021.

All the initiatives that Century is coming up with need strong technology-backing and that has created the requirement of building in-house IT capability. Hence we established Century Infotech to support our in-house software and application requirements as well as Cloud Dynamics, a white-label platform hosting SAAS products that will be sold by telecom operators and institutions to their existing client base. Our new trading platform will also be managed by Century Infotech.

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