Abu Dhabi Global Market Academy, the educational unit of the UAE capital's financial free zone, is partnering with the National University of Singapore (NUS) to foster collaboration in financial technology and entrepreneurship.
A preliminary agreement, signed by ADGM Academy and the Asian Institute of Digital Finance (AIDF) at the NUS, will focus on researching new-age technologies shaping the future of FinTech such as artificial intelligence and digital transformation.
The entities will also conduct research to address critical challenges facing the financial services sector in Abu Dhabi and beyond, ADGM said in a statement on Thursday.
“This partnership is another step forward in our goal to empower the financial ecosystem and strengthen the nation’s ambitious economic growth plans and digitisation aspirations,” said Hamad Sayah Al Mazrouei, chief operating officer of ADGM and managing director of ADGM Academy.
“With this, we are looking forward to utilising each other’s expertise and knowledge to build and introduce shared initiatives that strategically support the development and growth of the FinTech ecosystem in ADGM, Abu Dhabi and beyond.”
Globally, FinTech funding surged 68 per cent annually to $210 billion in 2021, with a record 5,684 deals signed through mergers and acquisitions, private equity and venture capital last year, a report by consultancy firm KPMG showed earlier this month. The rise was driven by subsectors such as payments and blockchain.
In the Middle East and North Africa, FinTech start-ups closed more than 100 deals in 2021, a report by Magnitt found. FinTech and e-commerce together constituted a third of all deals closed across the Mena region.
Abu Dhabi is also promoting the FinTech sector as a key focus for the growth of the finance industry, as digital adoption and online payments continue to boom.
ADGM has its own signature industry event, the annual FinTech Abu Dhabi Festival, which highlights the key developments in the industry. In its fifth year last October, global finance leaders from more than 40 countries took part and addressed the rapid pace of transformation across the sector.
The academy also currently offers several programmes aimed at boosting the FinTech sector including the School of Sustainable Finance, Certified FinTech Practitioner Mena and 100 scholarships for those who want to acquire or advance their skills.
The new agreement between ADGM Academy and AIDF will focus on cyber security, artificial intelligence, credit, big data analytics, digital transformation and sustainable finance to address challenges in the FinTech sector.
It will focus on three pillars — research and publication, technology development, and knowledge dissemination.
The partnership with ADGM Academy is expected to forge “close collaborations” in research advancements, the education of skilled professionals and the nurturing of FinTech entrepreneurs, said Duan Jin-Chuan, executive director of AIDF.
“We see these activities as a vital component in pursuing a better future for our countries. We are also excited by the prospects of potential positive spillovers to other areas across wider regions from this undertaking,” he added.
The two entities will also enable knowledge exchange across regions and explore further co-operation through AIDF's Fincubator programme — which supports start-ups — to help transform innovative proposals into market-ready products.
They will also be working towards creating an Asia-Mena FinTech Symposium, which will bring together regulators, policymakers, key industry players and FinTech start-ups to discuss the global market challenges concerning the development of the ecosystem.
The agreement comes after Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, received his Singaporean counterpart Dr Vivian Balakrishnan in Abu Dhabi last week to discuss developing bilateral relations.
AIDF, jointly founded by NUS, the National Research Foundation and the Monetary Authority of Singapore, aims to be an experimental site for developing digital financial technologies and nurture talent in the FinTech sector in Asia.