Dubai: FinTech Hive at DIFC on Monday commenced its inaugural accelerator programme with a select group of 11 finalists.
The programme with the participation of technology leaders and entrepreneurs aims to address the evolving needs of the region’s financial services industry by providing a platform for a new generation of technology start-ups.
The accelerator programme, launched in partnership with Accenture, is a key component of FinTech Hive at DIFC. It consists of a 12-week curriculum in which a group of selected finalists work closely with financial institutions and other stakeholders. “We received an overwhelming number of applications for the programme — a testament to the demand for such an initiative — and the quality of proposals was very impressive,” said Raja Al Mazrouei, Acting Executive Vice President of FinTech Hive at DIFC.
Several criteria were used to evaluate finalists, including the level of business maturity, the potential to thrive in the FinTech Hive at DIFC ecosystem and degree of fit with the partnering financial institutions.
“The exceptional quality of the proposals we received holds great promise for the future of FinTech in the UAE and the region. As FinTech continues to be a gamechanger for the financial services industry, nurturing innovative talent is a fundamental priority because of the immense benefits it brings to the economy and society,” said Sushil Saluja, senior managing director of financial services in Europe, Africa, Middle East and Latin America at Accenture.
The programme will run for 12 weeks. In the first phase, each finalist will meet with executives from the accelerator’s financial institution partners — including Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, Citi, Dubai Islamic Bank, Emirates Islamic, Emirates NBD, HSBC, Mashreq, Network International, RAKBANK, Standard Chartered and Visa — in which they will discuss industry challenges and possible solutions to address them. Participants will also meet with representatives from strategic partners, Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre (DIEDC) and UAE Exchange.
The second phase will revolve around engagement with partners and mentorship by the financial institutions, as well as other select partners who will cover technology, legal, Islamic Finance and regulatory themes to name a few. DIEDC will connect the finalists with fellow entrepreneurs in Islamic FinTech at a dedicated start-up event, while leading international law firms Clyde & Co, Simmons & Simmons and Support Legal will offer advice on how to navigate the region’s legal landscape.
The third and final phase will be pitch preparation for the Investor Day in mid-November. On this day, each start-up will promote its product to a host of investors, bankers, government officials and members of the media.
Selected start-ups for FinTech Hive at DIFC, include Bridg (United Arab Emirates), Delio (United Kingdom), Labiba (Jordan), Maliyya (Azerbaijan), Middleware (United States), Norbloc (Sweden), Sarwa (United Arab Emirates), Semantify (United States), Starling Trust (United States), Theme Chain (India) and WeInvest (Singapore)
Senior executives from DIFC Authority, Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) and Accenture will also be available throughout the programme to provide clarity around business procedures and the regulatory framework in the Centre.
Participating companies will benefit from the recently introduced Innovation Testing Licence (ITL), which allows qualifying FinTech firms to develop and test their concepts from within the DIFC, without being subject to the regulatory requirements that normally apply to regulated firms.