Building upon the successes of MENA’s biggest Fintech Festival presented by Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), the 7th edition of Fintech Abu Dhabi welcomed an impressive turnout of financial tech leaders and visionaries converging from across the globe . This included those leading innovation in major financial institutions, startups, innovators, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, scientists and academics, solidifying Abu Dhabi’s position as a forward-thinking innovation and tech hub.
ADGM’s flagship event, Fintech Abu Dhabi, conducted in partnership with Huawei continued to be a highlight of Abu Dhabi Finance Week (ADFW) this year, focusing on the central theme of the event – ‘The Convergence of Finance and Technology’.
The event kicked off with a lively debate on the financial crime economy and brought together prominent AI institutions in Abu Dhabi to discuss the city’s early commitment to AI. Participants also delved into the maturity of the crypto industry. Dr. Alexander Lipton, Global Head of Research & Development at ADIA provided insights on how social media is reshaping the global banking landscape, while the CEO of Circle outlined strategies for harnessing digital assets to enhance global financial stability.
Other interesting sessions included ‘Decoding a “Skandal” – Inside Wirecard’s Investigation discussed by Financial Times Investigative Reporter – Dan McCrum and Themis Founder and CEO – Dickon Johnston and another one on ‘Finding an Entrepreneurial Mindset with VaynerX Chairman and CEO – Gary Vaynerchuk.
One-of-a-kind forums featured during Fintech Abu Dhabi included Blockchain, AI and Risk & Security. Blockchain Abu Dhabi presented in partnership with Circle discussed topics such as the quest to design stability for digital money, digital currencies of Central Banks improving digital asset infrastructure and the overall impact of blockchain and Web3 on the financial industry. AI Abu Dhabi was conducted in collaboration with Mastercard while Risk 4.0 was conducted in association with the Executive Council for Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Financing.
These discussions offered thought-provoking insights into the broader implications of rapid digitalisation, climate change, economic instability, AI and automation, and other emerging trends that have transformed the financial landscape. The importance of establishing responsible and inclusive financial ecosystems to foster a sustainable, resilient, and equitable future was emphasised.
Regulation as a Service
During the event, ADGM – in collaboration with its partners, unveiled initiatives to redefine regulatory practices. The Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) outlined its “Regulation as a Service” strategy through its Digital Lab, aimed at co-creating innovative solutions for the licensing and supervision of firms. Noteworthy collaborations included leveraging large language models with Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence to enhance the ‘Risk Analyser’ supervisory tech tool.
Another collaboration of the FSRA with the National University of Singapore aims to develop an AI-powered assessment tool for virtual asset service providers seeking licensing in ADGM. The FSRA also launched a tech solution it developed for enhanced monitoring of firms’ capital and client assets and industry-facing versions of its SupTech tools to empower regulated firms to assess their compliance and fulfil their regulatory obligations smartly.
In its efforts for continuous improvement, the FSRA announced soliciting feedback on a discussion paper related to information technology (IT) risk management to enhance firms’ operational resilience. Furthermore, fostering innovation in Decentralised Finance (DeFi), the FSRA unveiled a collaboration with Coinbase Asset Management and Neoply and also nudged towards a DeFi consultation paper slated for publication in 2024, alongside enhancements to the existing regulatory framework.
Linda Fitz-Alan Registrar and Chief Executive at ADGM Courts said,
“In its staggering 7th edition, Fintech Abu Dhabi started as a pioneer, awakening our imagination, guiding the disruption of our norms and making innovation our constant. This is no longer an annual event; this is a pivotal marker to test the temperature and tap into the thoughts of global leaders in financial technology. The insightful discussions at Fintech Abu Dhabi do not just shape the future of the fintech landscape, but also create its landscape while opening our minds to the endless possibilities for the future of the financial sector.”
Major Announcements and MoUs
Several Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) were signed during the event, announcing milestone collaborations. CPX Holding, a leading provider of digital-first cybersecurity solutions and services and ADGM signed a strategic collaboration that will aim to elevate the overall resilience of companies operating within ADGM’s expanding jurisdiction while reinforcing its cybersecurity regulations.
ADGM and Cisco, the worldwide leader in IT and networking signed an MoU with ADGM to accelerate digital transformation initiatives via Cisco’s Country Digital Acceleration (CDA) Program while also benefitting from their Cisco Academy program that educates about the latest technologies. Another MoU between dU and ADGM will explore a joint initiative to secure exclusive discounted offers from the UAE’s telecom giant for start-ups based in ADGM’s international financial centre.
Furthermore, major announcements by global companies such as GQG Partners (GQG) an independent asset management firm with more than USD 100 billion in AUM and Offset8, a proprietary asset management firm specialising in the global verified carbon credits (VCC) market announced receiving an In-Principle Approval (IPA) from the FSRA of ADGM. IOTA, the open public goods infrastructure ushering in digital asset innovation, announced its registration as the first company to be registered under the DLT Foundations Regulations of ADGM.
Masdar Green REIT received the ADGM Green Fund Designation from ADGM FSRA under its new Sustainable Finance Regulatory Framework, reaffirming its leadership in advancing green real estate investment.
MEVCA and New York and Singapore headquartered-GPCA announced a partnership that will see GPCA establish a permanent presence in the Middle East, with the support of MEVCA. Joy Capital announced their plan to incorporate joint-venture companies (“JVs”) in ADGM and Abu Dhabi in collaboration with FEST Auto Technology, eHome Health and Wicue Optoelectronics Co.
The Global Financial Regulators Summit, a closed-door gathering of key global financial regulatory leaders was conducted parallel to Fintech Abu Dhabi and discussed the role regulators play in shaping the sustainable finance landscape of the future. The outcomes of the summit will be announced tomorrow during the R.A.C.E (Regulation, Awareness, Collaboration & Ecosystem) Sustainability Summit.
Featured image credit: Asset Abu Dhabi 2023, with Mubadala & BTG Pactual: Opening Address, Salem Mohammed Al Darei