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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 18 November 2018

DIFC's FinTech Hive aims to expand its programme in 2019

Number of finalists doubled to 22 in the second edition of this financial technology accelerator programme
“We are looking forward to have at least two programmes from next year – one will focus on mid-growth stage companies and the other will look at earlier (growth) stage companies,” Raja Mazrouei, executive vice president of FinTech Hive at DIFC. Pawan Singh / The National 

Dubai International Financial Centre’s FinTech Hive, whose startups managed to raise over $10 million in funding in 2017, is aiming to introduce more programmes while adding new innovations in the region’s banking sector.

The number of finalists of the 12-week curriculum accelerator programme, which entered its second edition on Tuesday, has doubled to 22. Fintech refers to technology that helps businesses in the financial sector.

“They [start-ups] came to this programme, proved their credibility and commitment towards the FinTech and the end-result was really good - they were able to raise the necessary capital,” Raja Mazrouei, executive vice president of FinTech Hive at DIFC, told The National on Tuesday.

“We are looking forward to have at least two programmes from next year – one will focus on mid-growth stage companies and the other will look at earlier (growth) stage companies.”

Gulf financial centres in Dubai, Abu Dhabi as well as Bahrain have launched several FinTech programmes to attract venture capital funding and drive innovation into their economies. In June, DIFC partnered with UK-based Startupbootcamp for the development of a FinTech venture capital ecosystem in the region.

FinTech Hive was launched last year in partnership with Accenture, the New York-listed technology firm, and is one of the first and largest FinTech accelerators in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia region. It is now looking forward to grow by having more partner institutions.

Besides leading banks such as Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, Emirates NBD, First Abu Dhabi Bank, Riyad Bank and Standard Chartered, venture capital firms like Beco Capital and MEVP are also partners in this initiative.

“Our funding partners know start-ups’ exact capital needs and they are willing to discuss how they can support and engage with them,” said Ms Mazrouei.

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“Our aim is to bring more technologies to this region. The excitement confirms that the region has the right FinTech ecosystem that is required to support the growth."

As part of this programme, the selected finalists will work closely with financial institutions and other stakeholders to create innovative and forward-looking solutions that aim to address the evolving needs of the region’s financial services industry.

The pool of selected start-ups, who come from different countries including the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Jordan, Nigeria and the US, covers FinTech, InsurTech (which refers to insurance technology), RegTech (which refers to regulatory technology) and Islamic FinTech sectors (which refers Sharia-compliant financial technology).

Ms Mazrouei said that the adoption rate of FinTech in regional banks is higher than expected. Last year FinTech Hive worked with 11 financial institutions and this year they are working with 21 partners.

The second edition has also expanded its scope beyond Fintech to include Insurtech, RegTech and Islamic Fintech.

Out of last year’s 11 finalists, six have also setup their offices in Dubai.