The Etihad Challenge

New for 2019 


Headquartered in Abu Dhabi, Etihad is one of the world's leading airlines and the National Carrier of the United Arab Emirates. Etihad has innovation as part of its DNA and is leading the way in the rapid digital transformation of the travel industry, through researching and investing in new, game-changing and innovative ideas, solutions and technologies.

FinTech Abu Dhabi teamed up with Etihad to find solutions to highly specific FinTech-related problems faced by their finance and accounting teams. Etihad is calling the most disruptive FinTech talent from across the world to address their challenges. 

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About The Challenge 


Following the success of 2018’s Innovation Adoption Challenge which resulted in the commercialisation of a miles redemption solution with payments technology startup Modo, Etihad partnered with FinTech Abu Dhabi again.

For 2019, they looked for startups who could provide game-changing solutions relevant to problems statements listed below. 

The Etihad Challenge culminated on the final day of FinTech Abu Dhabi (October 23rd). Selected startups pitched their solution, and demonstrated how it could answer Etihad's problem statements below, to a theatre of Etihad executives. The winners will now work with Etihad to explore the opportunity to deploy their solution.

This was an incredible chance for emerging and scaling FinTech startups to pitch, test and possibly deploy their game-changing solution to one of the world's leading airlines and most iconic brands. 

The Problem Statements

Problem statements are grouped under the following challenge areas. Click on each title to view the statements.

Accounts Payable & Accounts Receivables Reconciliation

Accounts Payable & Accounts Receivables Reconciliation


Accounts Payable (AP) and Accounts Receivables (AR) teams often interact with suppliers/customers to understand how much is owed in and out. This is formally known as the Statement of Account reconciliation process. This reconciliation usually happens via email and use of excel extracts taken from Accounting systems (e.g. SAP).

Once completed, the reconciliation findings usually trigger other actions such as sharing of invoice copies, proof of payment, discrepancy queries etc. Some of these can be easily automated, others are more complicated and will require manual input.

Key Issues/Benefits

1) Time: The process is currently 100% manual and inefficient for both the supplier/customer and Etihad.

2) Timely Info: As the process takes time, it’s only done once a month which limits Credit Risk visibility. 

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Document Repository and Sharing System

Document Repository and Sharing System


Etihad is required to provide various documents including KYC (Know Your Client), regulatory documentation and Compliance Documents (Financial Statements) to counter-parties (predominantly banks) generally on a scheduled basis (banks will often look to refresh their KYC data from time to time).

Some of this documentation is bespoke (banks will have their own forms with relevant information such as whether either party carries out business in sanctioned countries), but a lot of the information is standardised, such as Memorandums of Association, Trade Licences etc. Likewise signature mandates are updated from time to time but will apply across multiple banks. Banks will often require identification documents for signatories.

Key Issues/Benefits

1) Repetition:  A lot of these processes are highly repetitive, require human intervention and a lot of administrative work.

2) Security & Trust: Since there are personal ID documents for signatories and potentially confidential data about companies, Etihad need to be cautious about how the documents are stored and how widely they are shared.

Etihad is especially interested in how Blockchain may feature as part of a document repository and sharing system.

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Self- Service Invoicing 

Self- Service Invoicing 


To pay suppliers/customers, the Accounts Payable team request invoices in the form of PDF’s and then convert this data using optical character recognition technology before entering into our Accounting system. Despite being quite well digitised, the process is still too long and cumbersome, especially for smaller vendors.

Key Issues/Benefits

1) Time: By allowing invoices to come into Etihad,  they accept responsibility for correcting errors (e.g. missing info), manual intervention to correct OCR problems, etc. This all takes time and can be avoided.

2) Service Levels: An app interface would simplify the process for smaller vendors and help Etihad decentralise the workload internally (e.g. instead of sending an email to their point of contact, the vendor may open an app, scan their invoice and the app automatically pushes into Etihad's systems applications and products environment).

Enter Now

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