DIFC Bolsters MENA’s Fintech Ecosystem with ‘Hive Accelerator’

Emirates NBD, Mashreq, Visa International and HSBC will be the first participants in the accelerator program.

Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and global professional services company Accenture are set to launch the region’s first fintech accelerator in Dubai within the first quarter of 2017.

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Emirates NBD, Mashreq, Visa International and HSBC will be the first local and international participants in the accelerator program.

FinTech Hive will identify the best entrepreneurs within the financial services industry, offering them the opportunity to test and modify fintech innovations, as well as access to feedback from potential customers and funders.

The accelerator programme provides a platform that brings financial and technology firms together in order to increase access to, and improve customer experience and drive operational efficiency in the financial services sector.

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Growing buzzwords into a tiny ecosystem

Fintech innovation in the United Arab Emirates shares enthusiasm with the key centres of business such as New York, London and Singapore, albeit at a much lower scale. In financial centres across the world, fintech has attracted large amounts of investment, but currently the Middle East and North Africa only attract around 1 percent of these funds.

Despite the sector’s size, momentum is building and governments in the region are eager to jump on the bandwagon. The launch of the accelerator comes just two months after the a fintech ‘sandbox’ initiative by fellow free zone Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM). The sandbox, which is modelled on similar initiatives by regulators in Singapore and the UK, allows companies to launch under restrictions and regulations which are less onerous.

The new hub will start with a 12 week accelerator covering a variety of areas including trade finance, alternative finance such as P2P payments, and Sharia based services.

Commenting on the launch, Essa Kazim, Governor of DIFC Authority, 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.”

Arif Amiri, CEO 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.”

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