Abu Dhabi Global Market signs fintech agreement with Silicon Valley startup accelerator

Accelerator programme will be housed in a new fintech innovation centre set to open by mid-2018

Ahmed Al Sayegh, chairman of Abu Dhabi Global Markets addresses the second day of the first Fintech Abu Dhabi conference at the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr on 23 October.

Ahmed Al Sayegh, chairman of Abu Dhabi Global Markets addresses the second day of the first Fintech Abu Dhabi conference at the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr on 23 October.

Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) signed an agreement on Monday with a startup accelerator from Silicon Valley to run a fintech programme at a new innovation center that will be launched by the end of the first half of 2018.

The FinTech Innovation Centre will be a physical hub for fintech startups to meet investors and other financial institutions in a bid to bring innovation to the region.

“Although we know that technology is a great ally, it can also be a source of frustration. A great deal of what fintech is trying to achieve is to alleviate this frustration by transforming user-experience and enhancing efficiency in financial services,” Ahmed Al Sayegh, chairman of ADGM told the audience at the FinTech Abu Dhabi Summit on Monday.

“As an IFC (international financial centre), ADGM recognises that we can do something to enable fintech to have the opportunity to thrive,” he added.

The startup acceleration programme being launched at the new fintech centre will be a partnership between ADGM and Plug and Play, a technology incubator based in Silicon Valley in the United States that has nurtured companies including Google, Paypal and Dropbox, among others.

“We would like to build in Abu Dhabi a fintech innovation platform that could serve similar to what Singapore has done in Southeast Asia - a hub and a headquarter(s) for many banks and financial institutions,” Saeed Amidi, CEO of Plug and Play told reporters on the sidelines of the summit.

“We would like to make this a hub for regional startups and we would also love to bring proven technology startups from Europe, [the] Far East, and [the] U.S. that would like to expand in the Middle East. We have been able to do this in the fintech industry in Paris and Stuttgart,” he added.

Amidi said that he believed the banking and insurance industry will go through rough times in the next 5-10 years if they do not embrace digital transformation. Richard Teng, CEO of the Abu Dhabi Global Market's financial services regulatory authority, voiced similar thoughts.

“Artificial intelligence, blockchain, even ICOs, Bitcoin and other virtual currencies are going to transform the shape of the financial services industry,” Teng told reporters at a media briefing.

“And in the MENA landscape, if we compare to Asia, U.S. and Europe, we are really trying to catch up with what we’ve seen elsewhere. The earlier we embrace them (these technologies), the stronger and more competitive our financial institutions will be,” Teng added.

On other partnerships in the UAE, Plug and Play’s Amidi told Zawya that the company has just launched an innovation platform in Cleveland Clinic in the U.S., adding that he expects to see a similar partnership agreement with Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi soon.

“The hospitals and their customers’ experience are changing really fast, and we would like to bring technologies that make the labs in Cleveland Clinic more productive,” he told Zawya.

“We have a company called ViewX that can make the same equipment, the same labs, and the same people 30 percent more productive through artificial intelligence. So we hope to bring those proven technologies to Abu Dhabi to see if they can create value for the patients as well as for the clinic itself,” he added.

“We have also had many discussions for Dubai, with Dubai Holding, for instance, and other entities. We feel that since we now have footprints in the region, we may have multiple other locations in the Middle East,” said Amidi.

© ZAWYA 2017

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