The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is poised to become a fintech nexus in the Middle East, aided by government agencies and regulators working together to turn the country into a global fintech powerhouse, according to a new report.
These are driving a range of initiatives aimed at fostering a burgeoning fintech ecosystem with examples that include the RegLab launched by the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) to allow financial institutions and new entrants to develop and test their fintech proposition, the Fintech Hive, a fintech accelerator program by the Dubai International Financial Centre, and 2020 blockchain ambition in Dubai, which seeks to turn the city into “the first blockchain-powered government in the world.”
As a free-trade zone, Abu Dhabi, the capital and economic center of UAE, boasts a strong financial center, stable political, regulatory and judicial regimes, a business-friendly environment, excellent technology infrastructure and availability of capital.
Abu Dhabi has been ranked as the top fintech hub in the Middle East and North African region by Deloitte.
ADGM is currently working on establishing a fintech innovation center and a fintech association in the city to represent the rising fintech industry and attract startups and talent from around the world.
The ADGM Fintech Innovation Center, which has tied up with Plug and Play, the world’s largest startup accelerator based in Silicon Valley, will be a physical hub where startup communities can come together to create a collaborative ecosystem. The facility will also feature a global startup acceleration program to attract and nurture fintech firm from around the world.
The fintech center will be operational in the first half of 2018.
UAE fintech sector
UAE has the second largest economic in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and although the country still remains extremely reliant on petroleum and natural gas, UAE has been successful in diversifying its economy.
One area in particular that’s been a focus is technology, and in the field, UAE is rising as a regional leader, securing half of all tech funding in the region over the past three years, according to Magnitt. This comes with little surprise as the UAE is ranked the easiest country in the region in which to run a new business.
In fintech, UAE hosts more than one third of fintech startups in the Middle East with 29 ventures. These mainly target the payments (30%) and lending (18%) spaces.
Notable players include NOW Money, a mobile banking app offering accounts, remittances and financial inclusion services, Beehive, a regulated peer-to-peer lending platform for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and yallacompare, a leading financial comparison platform in the region.
UAE Fintech Startup Map
You can download the Startup Map including report here.