Since the launch of the National Strategy for Innovation, the UAE has become a hotbed for advancement across multiple fields, from space travel to sustainability. However, since the UAE cabinet allocated AED2 billion to the Mohammed bin Rashid Innovation Fund, one sector has seen the level of innovation reach a fever pitch – the finance sector.
Uniting fintech’s greatest minds, the UAE hosts numerous sandbox environments, including the DIFC Fintech Hive, the region’s first fintech accelerator, with 11 FinTech companies selected to advance their ideas in the first cycle. Elsewhere, in 2017 Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) partnered with KPMG for the Fintech Abu Dhabi Innovation Challenge and, in 2018, will open the FinTech Innovation Centre and pursue a partnership with Plug and Play, the world’s largest start up accelerator.
Inspired by the progress, the private sector has been hard at work too, with EmiratesNBD investing AED1 billion in digital transformation to 2020, and both Mashreq and CBD launching “digital banks” for millennials.
Government support has been vital to the progress. In 2016, the 46-member Global Blockchain Council was inaugurated and His Highness Sheikh Hamdan announced the launch of the Dubai Blockchain Strategy.
The sector’s many stakeholders require a platform for ongoing collaboration and, meeting this need in 2017, Naseba and Dubai Financial Services Authority produced the Fintech Summit – gathering 124 senior banking and finance executives from across the GCC under the theme Transforming the BFSI Enterprise. Continuing this work, the Fintech Summit returns to Dubai on October 30, 2018 to unite a fintech industry now more innovative and agile than ever before.