The Abu Dhabi Global Market created an online community where entities such as banks, investors, FinTech companies and regulators can come together to test the feasibility of new products and services.
The Digital Marketplace initiative, part of the ADGM's Digital Lab, went live yesterday, the financial free zone said.
“In the GCC region, the digital transformation agenda has steadily become an important focus of many financial institutions and banks," said Wai Lum, senior executive director of capital markets at the ADGM's Financial Services Regulatory Authority.
"However, when it comes to actual implementation, banks are faced with a few challenges. There is a lack of a safe and conducive environment for them to test out their innovation before procurement," he said.
"There were instances when the banks realised after going through the procurement process that the technology was not up to their requirements. So, we decided to invest in a digital laboratory or a digital sandbox.”
Regional FinTech companies became more prominent as the pandemic fuelled demand for online payments.
The number of FinTechs in the region is set to grow to 1,845 by 2022, an increase of 230 per cent compared with 559 companies in 2015, according to a report by Mena Research Partners.
Within hours of launch, there were 37 stakeholders on the Digital Marketplace. These included regulators, banks, venture capitalists, FinTechs and technology companies, ADGM said.
It also listed 17 application programming interfaces or products on the platform. An API allows other software systems to work together.
“Our unique selling point is that we involve regulators in the development process. When FinTechs and financial institutions test their products on the platform, we are able to provide regulatory inputs from day one to ensure they are compliant by design,” said Mr Wai.
“It is a vibrant marketplace for interactions ... banks can source for FinTechs ... while FinTechs can look for potential investors.”
The platform will allow the ADGM to attract companies and regulators from around the world, said Mr Wai.
For example, start-ups from Singapore to London to New York can collaborate on the platform with banks in this part of the world, he said.
“The Digital Marketplace saw a very positive start and we can move from strength to strength.”