DIFC agrees partnership with Mena FinTech Association

The entities will create an innovation forum, develop and publish joint research and offer courses through the DIFC Academy

Dubai International Financial Centre, which launched FinTech Hive in 2017, has developed it into one of the biggest FinTech accelerators in the region. Courtesy DIFC
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Dubai International Financial Centre has teamed up with the Mena FinTech Association (MFTA) to develop an innovation forum and other initiatives to advance the financial technology sector in the region.

The entities will develop and publish joint research on various topics and also offer courses through the DIFC Academy, according to a joint statement on Tuesday.

“We are continuously evaluating the FinTech landscape to identify new opportunities and address emerging challenges,” Arif Amiri, chief executive of the DIFC Authority, said. "Through our agreement with MFTA, we collaborate to create a roadmap for FinTech entrepreneurs by offering insights on the future of finance.”

Founded in 2018, the MFTA is a not-for-profit group set up to represent the growing number of FinTech firms in the Middle East and North Africa region. It has worked with regulators and policy makers with a view to offering a regional voice for the industry.

The partnership with Dubai's financial free zone includes the foundation of a DIFC Innovation Panel, an invitation-only group whose founder members include Ebury, Checkout, Tarabut Gateway, Coinmena, Ripple, Baraka and Aura Insurance, among others.  Its role will be to provide advice and guidance on how to develop and build a thriving FinTech ecosystem.

The global FinTech industry is booming, with the Covid-19 pandemic encouraging more businesses to deploy new technologies. In the first quarter of 2021, FinTech companies raised $22.8 billion in new funding -  the highest quarter on record and almost double the $11.5bn raised in the same quarter last year, according to CBInsights.

The FinTech sector in the Middle East and Africa is forecast to make up 8 per cent of financial services revenue by next year, driven by customer demand and increased investment, according to a report by Irish technology company Accenture in partnership with Dubai accelerator FinTech Hive.

“We are pleased to see the rapid development of our partnership with DIFC … with a primary focus of supporting FinTech businesses across the MENA region,” Nameer Khan, chairman of the MFTA, said.

The collaboration also includes strategic projects with government bodies and regional regulators “to further compliment their work in creating an enabling framework which today plays a key role in the economics of a country”, Mr Khan said.