|30 May, 2017

DIFC’s fintech accelerator attracts global innovators

The accelerator programme, launched in partnership with Accenture, brings together technology leaders and entrepreneurs to address the needs of the region’s financial services industry

The Gate - Main building of Dubai International Financial Centre, the world's fastest growing international financial centre. August 13, 2013 Dubai, UAE. Image used for illustrative purpose.

The Gate - Main building of Dubai International Financial Centre, the world's fastest growing international financial centre. August 13, 2013 Dubai, UAE. Image used for illustrative purpose.

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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Dubai: FinTech Hive at DIFC, the region’s first FinTech accelerator launched by the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) earlier this year, has received over 100 applications from more than 32 countries for its inaugural programme.

The accelerator programme, launched in partnership with Accenture, brings together technology leaders and entrepreneurs to address the needs of the region’s financial services industry.

The majority of applications have come from the UAE, the UK, the US, India, Nigeria and Singapore, and cover a range of concepts including big data and analytics, the blockchain, payments, P2P and crowdfunding, roboadvisors, and mobility.

DIFC, Accenture and partnering financial institutions will assess the applications based on whether the proposed innovation is unique, fills a gap in the market and meets industry needs. The top applicants will be shortlisted and interviewed. Up to 10 finalists will be selected on July 11, 2017.

The programme will formally begin on August 21, 2017. Following 12 weeks of mentorship and co-working sessions with leading local and international financial institutions, successful applicants will get to present their work in the form of a demo day among potential investors.

Successful applicants will get to present their work in the form of a demo day among potential investors. Although the DIFC accelerator do not intend to take up equity or provide financing for the innovators, officials said it will not be difficult for viable technology solutions to find market funding options ranging from crowd funding, venture capital or private equity.

“We are encouraged by the high calibre of applications, and remain confident that FinTech Hive at DIFC will accelerate innovation in the region and put us on par with other FinTech hubs around the world,” said Raja Al Mazrouei, acting executive vice-president of FinTech Hive at DIFC.

Through this new programme the DIFC programme intends to link innovative tech thinkers with financial industry leaders in an ecosystem. Shortlisted applicants will have the opportunity to be mentored by leading executives from Citi, Emirates NBD, Emirates Islamic, HSBC, Mashreq, RAKBANK, Standard Chartered, and Visa, as well as senior representatives from the DIFC Authority and Accenture.

Technology mentorship will also be available from Facebook and Envestnet Yodlee.

“Given the significant interest that this programme has garnered, it is evident that innovative thinkers and established industry leaders are eager to join hands and create strong synergies,” said Sushil Saluja, senior managing director for Financial Services in Europe, Africa, Middle East and Latin America at Accenture.

Dubai’s Financial Services Authority (DFSA), the regulator of the DIFC, recently announced the launch of a new financial services licence for fintech firms. The Innovation Testing Licence will allow qualifying companies to test new concepts within DIFC without being subject to the same regulatory requirements as normal firms.

“We are working on a supportive regulatory environment for fintech firms to innovate and grow from within the DIFC. Our innovation testing licence is such an initiative that allows fintech firms to use the licence to test a product or service for six to 12 months, with an extension beyond this period granted selectively,” said Peter Smith, managing director and head of Policy and Strategy at the DFSA.

By Babu Das Augustine Banking Editor

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