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Dubai International Financial Centre spearheads FinTech sector development

 Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), the leading international financial hub in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region and home to the largest, most developed FinTech ecosystem in the region is continuing to deliver upon the Centre’s blueprint for diversifying and transforming the financial services industry. This sustained focus on financial sector innovation is enabling the DIFC to help deliver Dubai’s ambitious growth agenda, whilst supporting the economic vision of Dubai and the UAE. Dubai has been recognised as the seventh FinTech location globally for economic potential, highlighting Dubai’s efforts to support and expedite sustainable economic growth. Dubai is the only financial centre in the MEASA region to appear within the top 10 FinTech Locations of the Future 2019/20 for Economic Potential index by fDi Intelligence - the Financial Times.  

The DIFC has welcomed the inaugural report, published this month by investment monitor fDi, which recognises the enormous potential of FinTech to ignite economies and deliver sustainable financial sector growth. The report highlights the regulatory and legal framework, ease of doing business, representation of leading world banks and talent pool as key factors influencing the top ten ranking. The index further cements the global status of Dubai as a leading FinTech capital following the Centre’s ranking as a top 10 hub by Financial Times Group’s The Banker.

Commenting on the new milestone for Dubai, Arif Amiri, Chief Executive Officer, DIFC Authority, said: “We welcome the continued recognition of Dubai as an international hub for FinTech and innovation. This ranking further enhances Dubai’s global standing and asserts the DIFC’s reputation and capabilities as one of the world’s most advanced financial centres, reinforcing our position as one of the world’s leading FinTech ecosystems. Innovation and financial technology are key drivers in our strategy to become the world’s pivotal centre for sector disruption. The DIFC is leading financial sector transformation, supporting the advancement of the UAE economy, whilst developing a dynamic digital infrastructure in the new FinTech landscape, which allows innovation to thrive. Dubai’s ranking as a top ten FinTech location of economic potential further demonstrates the strong promise of the destination for growth.”   

Dubai continues to be recognised on the global stage as a dynamic business environment where innovation thrives, whilst the Centre has delivered outstanding business performance across both traditional banking and FinTech sectors. DIFC offers all the elements found in the world’s most successful financial industry ecosystems, including an independent regulatory and judicial system, a global financial exchange, access to funding, a dynamic and enabling sector environment, complemented by a diverse and cosmopolitan talent pool and a vibrant business community.  

The significant emphasis on financial technology and innovation is part of DIFC’s ongoing efforts to shape the future of finance in MEASA region and the Centre’s sustained focus on unlocking the potential of FinTech in the region. The DIFC has already seen a marked increase in the number of firms that make up its dynamic FinTech ecosystem, which more than doubled in size from over 80 to 200 companies during the first six months of 2019. Similarly, the number of licensed FinTech firms operating in the Centre increased from 35 to more than 80 in the first half of this year. Key international FinTech firms that have made the Centre their MEASA base include Dublin-based software company Fenergo, InsurTech leaders Charles Taylor and Swedish crowdfunding platform, FundedByMe.

DIFC has also worked to increase access to funding by engaging and building its Venture Capital ecosystem, as well as investing directly into promising FinTech start-ups. In March 2019, the Centre announced the appointment of Middle East Venture Partners and Wamda Capital to manage USD 10 million of its dedicated USD 100 million FinTech fund. DIFC received 425 applications from start-ups operating in the RegTech, Islamic FinTech, InsurTech and broader FinTech sectors, for the third cohort of its DIFC FinTech Hive accelerator programme, a three-fold increase from its inaugural cycle in 2017, exemplifying the pace of evolution of this fast-growing industry across the region. To date, DIFC has received more than 50 applications from a variety of financial technologies, including payments, roboadvisory, blockchain and KYC platforms. The applications received have been in equal parts from early and growth stage firms, signifying interest from firms across the start-up business cycle.

DIFC works with stakeholders regionally and internationally to develop a robust digital infrastructure and attractive FinTech ecosystem. Long-term strategies have been implemented to attract and retain key players and investors to the sector and the Centre’s thriving FinTech community benefits from the strong relationships the DIFC has continued to build with key international accelerators through ongoing delegations, strategic agreements and mutually beneficial partnerships with key global financial centres. During the first six months of 2019, the Centre has signed four MoUs, one with Dubai SME to help foster entrepreneurship in the UAE and further the National Innovation Agenda, as well as three additional agreements with FinTech Saudi and Milan’s FinTech District. Furthermore, the Centre has signed partnership agreements with 14 leading FinTech hubs including London, New York, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Hong Kong, all of which appear within the fDi Markets report. 

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