Financial IT speaks with Mr. Mohammed Kateeb, Group Chairman & CEO of Path Solutions about Islamic finance and role of Path Solutions in the development of the Islamic finance industry.
Financial IT: Can you give us brief information about Path Solutions? And what was your journey like to get where you are?
Mr. Mohammed Kateeb: At the time of establishment of Path Solutions, the concept of adopting specialized software for Islamic finance was almost non-existent. Naturally, we were faced with some challenges which however, provided us with an opportunity to develop a comprehensive suite of software solutions based on the Sharia guidelines to meet the growing needs of the Islamic financial services sector. Following the establishment of Path Solutions 25 years ago, the Islamic finance industry has now matured into a dramatic niche sector.
We are very proud of what we have achieved so far. It is a great success story for a regional software company because we were able to create innovative solutions to run large Islamic financial institutions. These institutions are not limited to a certain geography or a region, but they are spread far and wide on every continent, and in major financial hubs such as London, Dubai and Kuala Lumpur, and in countries with very challenging infrastructure deep into the African continent, and we were able to serve them all. Besides, we are the benchmark to many market research companies when it comes to Islamic finance technology providers. Our success is demonstrated by a significant market share and the high level of client satisfaction.
From a modest beginning in 1992, Path Solutions has since grown in leaps and bounds. It has significantly grown in size, diversity, and depth of its operations. Today, Path Solutions is a leading IT firm that offers a broad, deep spectrum of Sharia-compliant mission-critical software solutions designed to meet the needs of modern Islamic finance, with world-class R&D centres located in Kuwait, Lebanon, India and Egypt, and global support offices situated in over 11 countries.
Financial IT: How much has the Islamic banking and finance industry changed since Path Solutions started off in 1992? How great is the impact of Fintech to Islamic finance?
Mr. Mohammed Kateeb: There is no doubt that Islamic financial markets have experienced significant growth in the last two and a half decades. Islamic finance continues to develop in various parts of the world, each of which is at a different level of development. In some markets, it is mature with very strong fundamentals and in others markets like in the West, it is just starting to wake up to its potential.
The financial industry as a whole is going through a revolution and our segment is no different. Information technology is already playing a key strategic role in shaping this industry and will continue to do that for years to come. Path Solutions is a company that understands this revolution very well and is investing heavily in the new technologies. We’re here to help our clients succeed in the fourth industrial revolution, while embarking on cost reduction initiatives - targeting not only significant but also sustainable efficiency gains, and thus supporting them in their race to become fit for the future.
Financial IT: The Islamic financial services industry is expanding day by day that drives innovation and competition. How does Path Solutions address these trends and challenges?
Mr. Mohammed Kateeb: We address these challenges by being the number one provider of Sharia-based financial technology solutions and the only IT vendor that is 100% focused on this segment, which allows us to understand this segment better than any other vendor, by developing and implementing software solutions that are flexible to any region and to our clients’ specific requirements. With 25 years of solid experience under our belt, no provider out there can match Path Solutions’ deep understanding of this segment, or our ability to deliver comprehensive solutions to cover all its needs.
To meet the innovation challenge, Path Solutions is investing heavily in advanced technologies to empower its clients. We provide them with deep analytical tools to understand the behavior of their customers and their preferences, and we provide them with the solutions to go digital and to bring the most advanced and innovative services to their customers.
Financial IT: What are the unique features and major competitive advantages of your company?
Mr. Mohammed Kateeb: We are a technology company that focuses on a specific business segment. From a technology point of view, we hire the best architects, database designers and software engineers who are specialized in the latest technologies to bring the best and latest advancements in technology to empower our clients and make them more competitive.
We also hire business people who understand the financial industry and more specifically the Islamic finance segment, its stringent regulations and needs. They help us in introducing the right components into our solutions. We are the only software company that has designed its core banking system from the ground up based on the Sharia principles, and this is a huge differentiator for us. We have tremendous industry expertise working with over 100 Islamic financial institutions worldwide. We are also a member of the Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI), a member of the General Council of Islamic Banks and Financial Institutions (CIBAFI), and many other standard-setting bodies. Together, we contribute to the development of the Islamic finance sector.
Financial IT: What is next for Path Solutions?
Mr. Mohammed Kateeb: Our company will continue to focus on the Islamic finance segment. As I stated before, this segment just like the conventional finance segment is going through a revolution of disrupting factors that will change this industry forever. New types of institutions will be created such as online banks; some fintechs will compete with financial institutions through providing specific financial services through mobility, cloud, etc.; and some telcos will try to provide banking through their subscriber accounts and their mobile networks; and some global technology and social media companies such as Apple, Google, Facebook, etc. will attempt to play a major role in this space by providing epayments and other financial services. Huge risks and major challenges but also amazing opportunities will present themselves in the near future.
Path Solutions is a company that understands this revolution very well and is investing heavily in new technologies such as e-channels, mobility, big data, analytics and social media tools to make sure it is empowering all its clients to stay competitive.
We will continue to align ourselves with the different needs of our clients, and will continue to be a true technology partner to all, and of course the technology leader in our segment. We will increase the breadth of our solutions by providing next-generation solutions in areas we don’t currently cover, and more solutions to new businesses and new business models. In addition, we will continue to focus on increasing the depth of our solutions and provide richer features for an efficient and more engaging customer experience. And we will be investing heavily into advancing our technology platform, the mobile technology and cloud computing.
Mohammed Kateeb is an established leader, known for being results-driven, dynamic and highly entrepreneurial. He has a diverse experience in building businesses, teams and identifying and capitalizing on market opportunities for over 30 years in the USA, UK and the Middle East. Before joining Path Solutions, Kateeb has spent 11 years as an executive with Microsoft. He is known as a key contributor to the region Telecommunication, Media and Information Technology industries. With a laser focus on innovation and quality, Mohammed has rapidly positioned Path Solutions as the World’s Number One Islamic Banking Software Provider and the dominant player in its field, earning multiple awards in recognition of its continuous commitment to the Islamic financial services industry.
In 2016, Mohammed Kateeb joined the Board of Trustees of IRTI, member of the Islamic Development Bank Group (IDBG) to develop a technology-enabled Islamic financial services sector to foster Islamic financial inclusion. He was granted the prestigious ‘Leadership Award 2017 in Information Technologies & Media’ by ISFIN, and named twice among the ‘Top 50 Most Influential Leaders Who Make the Islamic Economy’ in 2016 and in 2015 in ISLAMICA 500. Mohammed was also named among the ‘Top 10 CEOs in Enterprise Software’ in the 2016/17 CEO Insight Global Awards, in addition to being selected ‘Islamic Finance Technology CEO of the Year 2015’ by Business Worldwide magazine.