Dubai's DIFC launches plan for MidEast's first FinTech accelerator

Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and Accenture, a global professional services company, has announced plans for the Middle East’s first FinTech accelerator.

Set to launch later in the first quarter of 2017, FinTech Hive at DIFC will bring cutting-edge financial services technology to the regional 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, a statement said.

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, it added.

Officials said 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.

Essa Kazim, hovernor of Dubai International Financial Centre and chairman 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.”

Sushil Saluja, Accenture’s senior managing director for Financial Services in the company’s Europe, Africa, Middle East and Latin America region, added: “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.”

FinTech Hive at DIFC will start with a 12 week accelerator programme, which intends to target areas including trade finance, alternative finance such as P2P payments, and Sharia based services.

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.

Source: Arabianbusiness