Dubai International Financial Centre, DIFC, the financial hub of the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region, announced on Tuesday the launch of the region’s first fintech accelerator in Dubai.
Set to be operational in the first quarter of 2017, the FinTech Hive at DIFC will introduce cutting-edge financial services technologies to the MEASA markets while providing a platform that brings financial and technology firms together. Its goal is to increase access to this space and improve customer experience, thus driving operational efficiency in the financial services sector.
Globally, the fintech sector has attracted more than US$50 billion in investments since 2010, but currently the Middle East and North Africa only attract around 1 percent of that investment.
The DIFC accelerator aims to bridge the gap by creating a platform that drives innovation and showcases success. It will identify leading technology entrepreneurs and companies through a competitive process and offer them the opportunity to develop, test and modify their innovations in collaboration with top executives from DIFC and regional financial institutions.
Emirates NBD and Mashreq will be the first local financial institutions to join the accelerator programme while HSBC and VISA are the first international financial services providers.
Commenting on the launch of FinTech Hive at DIFC, Essa Kazim, Governor of DIFC and Chairman of the DIFC Authority Board of Directors, said, "We are proud to be launching FinTech Hive at DIFC following the recent announcement of the world’s first government accelerator programmes by Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. The UAE National Innovation Strategy and Dubai Plan 2021 steer us to be among the smartest cities in the world. With our founding membership at the Global Blockchain Council and today’s launch announcement, DIFC is pioneering innovative developments in the MEASA region’s financial services sector while taking our economies to new horizons."
Sushil Saluja, Accenture’s Senior Managing Director for Financial Services in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America region, said, "DIFC is uniquely positioned to become the regional hub for fintech. By putting together local banks and fintech firms to ideate, collaborate and partner, DIFC is helping both sectors to be at the forefront of the financial services industry. The accelerator programme will identify the best entrepreneurs within the financial services industry and grant them invaluable access to and feedback from potential customers and funders."
Accenture has been chosen to set up and operate the accelerator because of its experience and expertise in building and running the FinTech Innovation Labs in London, New York and Hong Kong.
The accelerator further demonstrates DIFC’s commitment to providing an internationally oriented fintech ecosystem that meets the specific requirements of the Middle East, Africa and South Asia, in line with Dubai Plan 2021 and the DIFC 2024 Strategy.
"In 2004, DIFC led the development of global financial services by linking the top financial centres around the world to the region. The FinTech Hive at DIFC is a continuation of our vision to link, develop and adapt top financial technologies to the region," said Arif Amiri, Chief Executive Officer of DIFC Authority.
"The digital era will define the region’s future in terms of liquidity and growth. The fintech market, with a global investment of US$22.3 billion in 2015, has already begun revolutionising the banking industry by offering new ways of unlocking resources and capital while driving efficiency and creating new partnerships. With 99 percent of consumers in the UAE using a mobile or a smartphone, fintech has the potential to make a real difference," said Omar Boulos, Regional Managing Director of Accenture in the Middle East and North Africa.
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