The Dubai International Financial Centre, the region’s de facto financial hub, and the management consultancy firm Accenture signed a memorandum of understanding to kindle financial technology creativity.
As part of the agreement, the FinTech Hive at the DIFC will collaborate with Accenture’s FinTech innovation labs in New York, London and Hong Kong to exchange resources and information on the latest trends in financial technology.
“This agreement leverages DIFC’s position as the top FinTech hub in the region and Accenture’s expertise in shaping a world-class innovation platform,” said Arif Amiri, chief executive of the DIFC Authority.
“The UAE’s position as a hub for financial institutions and for innovative talent gives the FinTech Hive at DIFC a competitive advantage for fostering FinTech growth. What sets us apart is our ability to harness the assets to grow FinTech locally that will ultimately create more jobs, attract investments and support the economy as a whole.”
DIFC is making FinTech a priority, as the industry fits into the emirate's plans to encourage the growth of small- and medium-sized businesses. To date, over a dozen banks and financial services firms have partnered with the financial centre to get connected with FinTech companies as they look to acquire technology and artificial intelligence. These technologies include so-called robo-advisory for wealth management investment decisions and distributed ledger technology that speeds the time it takes to make a transfer.
“In today’s hyper-connected world, this type of alliance is critical for maximising talent development and innovation,” said Sushil Saluja, senior managing director in Accenture’s Financial Services Practice.
“With surging demand for FinTech solutions and Dubai’s increasing presence on the global financial scene, we are confident that this international collaboration will generate incredible opportunities for the region.”
GCC countries are increasingly looking to fintech to improve efficiency in their banking industries, with financial free zones including the UAE’s Abu Dhabi Global Market and Dubai International Financial Centre issuing regulations to govern the fast-growing sector.
Bahrain, which aims to become a global hub for fintech, launched a fintech ‘regulatory sandbox’ last year, enabling firms to test and develop products in a virtual space. In February, Saudi Arabia's central bank, Saudi Arabia Monetary Authority (Sama), signed an agreement with US fintech company Ripple to run a pilot project to help banks settle payments using blockchain.