Banking on change: Talal Bayaa

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Not to put too fine a point on it, banks across the world are not renowned for their transparency.

Small print, hidden costs, lack of information, misleading interest rates and other frustrating issues have left customers feeling varying degrees of disappointment, anger, suspicion and confusion as they try to find clarity before making important financial and life decisions.

Websites overseas, such as moneysupermarket.com in the UK, and bankrate.com in the US have become consumer mainstays, helping people find the best, cheapest, most appropriate offerings on the market, paving the way for expat-driven businesses to be launched in the UAE and Gulf region, such as souqalmal.com, moneyshop.ae, moneycamel.com, and compareit4me.com.

But, until recently, there wasn’t a website focused solely on the banks. In 2013 Bayzat.com arrived to fill that gap.

Meaning ‘cash’ or ‘change’ in Arabic, Bayzat allows users to compare and contrast banking products, from credit cards and loans to time deposits and insurance - the latter a recent addition which includes details from a huge number of insurance companies.

The company was founded by Californian-Palestinian Talal Bayaa, who spent two years working at a private equity firm, followed by two years at an investment bank - a job which led to the idea of Bayzat.

Explaining that plans for the business were driven by clients’ constant queries about where to put their money, Bayaa says a rudimentary examination of the marketplace showed the need for such a platform.

He says: “There are about 50 banks in the UAE, with a population of more than 9m - it’s a huge number. But there’s nothing online aggregating their information.

“You have to go to various sites, try to contact banks directly, and so on. It’s a very fractured and frustrating process, and a big barrier for the region.”

With the lightbulb of inspiration lit, Bayaa and his co-founder Brian Habibi set about the task of putting together a go-to service for customers to find clear, comprehensive answers to all their banking questions.

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