FinTech Hive, the start-up accelerator backed by the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), will host its annual Investor Day in the metaverse, marking the first time its start-up founders will be able to present their concepts to investors in the emerging digital space.
More than 40 financial technology start-up founders are set to participate in the flagship event on November 10, where they will interact with the programme’s financial and knowledge partners, FinTech Hive said on Friday.
“The DIFC’s accelerator programmes continue to attract the world's most innovative start-ups in the financial services sector and we enjoy connecting them with meaningful partners and serious investors," Mohammad Alblooshi, sector head for FinTech at the DIFC, said.
"Interest continues to grow in our region from global investors, which is why we are tapping into the metaverse to offer them increased access to an exclusive cohort of promising start-ups that have successfully graduated from our accelerator programme."
The metaverse is the emerging space where people, represented by avatars or three-dimensional representations, can interact in virtual worlds. It is part of Web3, the next evolutionary step of the internet, with blockchain, decentralisation, openness and greater user utility among its core components.
Dubai and other emirates have taken a number of steps to integrate the metaverse into the UAE's economy and society. In July, the emirate's government unveiled the Dubai Metaverse Strategy, which aims to create 40,000 jobs and add $4 billion to the emirate's economy over the next five years.
FinTech, meanwhile, remained the highest funded sector across emerging venture markets — which includes the Middle East — in the first half of 2022, more than tripling to almost $1.68 billion in the first half of 2022 from a year ago, start-up data platform Magnitt said in a recent study.
Funding activity for the sector nearly doubled in 2021, with those in the Middle East and North Africa region alone raising almost $1 billion, which is a 78 per cent increase from 2020, FinTech Hive said in its annual report.
Holding Investor Day in the metaverse is also in line with the partnership the DIFC and FinTech Hive recently forged with Emirates NBD, Dubai's biggest lender by assets, and US technology major Microsoft in August to launch a global accelerator programme for metaverse start-ups.
"As we continue to cement our position as a global financial centre and a FinTech and innovation hub, the metaverse will play a major role for DIFC FinTech Hive to lead innovation in the future of financial services,” Mr Alblooshi said.
The DIFC's FinTech Hive, which is home to nearly 200 start-ups, is one of the largest FinTech accelerators in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia, and has teamed up with national and international entities to support start-ups.
It has already concluded its Scale-Up programme for 2022, which saw 10 FinTech start-ups in at least the Series A funding stage pitch their technologies to investors. Its AccelerateHER programme, meanwhile, has continued to support female entrepreneurs, with 35 women participating in workshops and mentoring.
FinTech Hive's funding partners include the Dubai Future District Fund, Abu Dhabi-based Shorooq Partners, Wamda, Gulf Capital, Dubai Cultivat8 and Impact46.
In September, it teamed up with Kuwait-based Islamic lender Boubyan Bank to launch a new accelerator programme that will support the development of start-up companies in the Gulf state and the wider region.