FinTech Hive at DIFC aligns with Dubai Plan 2021, empowering entrepreneurs to innovate and meet specific market needs
Accelerator is aimed at transforming DIFC into a global FinTech innovation hub linking the US, European and Middle East, African and South Asian markets
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, 10 January 2017: Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), the financial hub for the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region, and Accenture, a leading global professional services company, today announced the region’s first FinTech accelerator in Dubai.
Set to launch in the first quarter of 2017, FinTech Hive at DIFC, will bring cutting-edge financial services technology to the MEASA markets, while providing a platform that brings financial and technology firms together. Its goal is to increase access to, and improve customer experience and drive operational efficiencies in the financial services sector.
The global FinTech sector has attracted more than $50 billion in investment since 2010, but currently the Middle East and North Africa only attract around 1 percent of that investment. The DIFC Accelerator intends to bridge the gap by creating a platform that drives innovation and showcases success - identifying leading technology entrepreneurs and companies through a competitive process and then offering them the opportunity to develop, test and modify their innovations in collaboration with top executives from DIFC and regional financial institutions.
Commenting on the launch of FinTech Hive at DIFC, His Excellency Essa Kazim, Governor of Dubai International Financial Centre and Chairman of 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 Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai. The UAE National Innovation Strategy and Dubai Plan 2021 steer us to be among the smartest cities in the world. With our founding Membership in the Global Blockchain Council and today’s launch, DIFC is pioneering innovative developments in the MEASA’s financial services sector, while taking our economies to new horizons.”
Sushil Saluja, Accenture’s senior managing director for Financial Services in the company’s Europe, Africa, 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 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 was chosen to set up and operate the DIFC Accelerator because of its experience and expertise in building and running FinTech Innovation Labs in London, New York and Hong Kong. The Accelerator is further demonstration of DIFC’s commitment to providing an internationally oriented FinTech ecosystem that meets the specific needs of the Middle East, Africa and South Asia, in line with Dubai Plan 2021 and the DIFC 2024 Strategy.
FinTech Hive at DIFC will start with a 12 week ‘accelerator programme’, which will bring together the next generation of leaders and entrepreneurs to compete and address the growing needs of the region’s financial services industry, using innovative technology solutions. It intends to catalyse the growth and efficiency in a variety of areas including trade finance, alternative finance such as P2P payments, and Sharia based services.
Arif Amiri, Chief Executive Officer of DIFC Authority, said, “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. DIFC is fast becoming a pivotal hub in the global economy, with over 1,500 firms and 21,000 employees – most of whom are exploring FinTech solutions to tap into the world’s fastest growing economies. We are committed to providing a diverse and forward-thinking ecosystem to support FinTech innovation.”
Omar Boulos, regional managing director of Accenture in the Middle East and North Africa, said: “The digital era will define the region’s future in terms of liquidity and growth. The FinTech market, with a global investment of $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% of consumers in the UAE using a mobile or smartphone, FinTech has the potential to make a real difference.”
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.