When we launched the region’s first FinTech accelerator, we believed it would become a key tool in our mission to drive the future of finance and promote financial inclusion in the region. Our aim was to bridge the gap between creative start-ups and well-established financial institutions looking for innovative solutions to everyday challenges.

Today, as we mark the anniversary of FinTech Hive’s first programme, we are proud to say that our vision is already coming to life. The leading position that Dubai has achieved as one of the world’s top 10 FinTech hubs is a testament to this.

DIFC is today home to a thriving FinTech community of over 50 firms and numerous FinTech-related clients. In addition to having access to specialised licenses and an interactive workspace, they are supported by the largest financial community in the MEASA region. This year alone we have welcomed some exciting new start-ups and SMEs, including Virtual i, the region’s first InsurTech firm, and Amani and Regulation Technology Solutions, DIFC’s first RegTech firms.

We see FinTech Hive as a reflection of our commitment to support innovation and entrepreneurship, part of a long-term vision to drive the future of finance in line with our ambitious 2024 Strategy to triple in size.

From last year’s programme, six of 12 start-ups are already established in the Centre. In addition, total funding raised by these start-ups amounts USD 10 million, mostly from venture capitals and funds.

From last year’s programme, six of 12 start-ups are already established in the Centre. In addition, total funding raised by these start-ups amounts USD 10 million, mostly from venture capitals and funds.

Take, for example, Sarwa Digital Wealth Limited (Sarwa), an automated investment advice service and one of the programme’s finalists in 2017. Sarwa was the first company to be granted an in-principle approval for its Innovation Testing Licence (ITL). Another example is Norbloc, which also took part in FinTech Hive, and has since completed a USD 1.6 million seed round.

But the story doesn’t end there. Take a look at the numbers for the 2018 programme – more than 300 applications were created, which is three times the number who applied for the inaugural scheme last year.

We are delighted to receive applications from start-ups that are UAE-based, in line with our efforts to support the UAE National Innovation Strategy. However, the diverse international geographies represented in all the applications, including UK, India, USA and Nigeria, illustrate the reach that the scheme has achieved on the back of its successful first edition. This is echoed in the fact that the number of financial institution partners has doubled this year to 22, with the number of programme participants also increasing.

The growth of FinTech Hive in just 12 months has been remarkable. And for me, it is not only testament to the success of the programme, but also to the increasing confidence in what disruptive technologies can bring to the region and beyond.

And, with our next programme due to get under way in a matter of days, I can’t wait to see what the next 12 months holds as well.

Raja Al Mazrouei

Written by Raja Al Mazrouei

As Executive Vice President of FinTech Hive at DIFC, Raja Al Mazrouei oversees the region’s first FinTech accelerator, which brings together Financial Institutions, Government entities, technology partners and entrepreneurs to develop technologies that benefit the financial industry. Ms. Al Mazrouei plays an integral role in building awareness, increasing media outreach and facilitating partnerships in emerging FinTech markets, such as China, India, the UK, the US and Africa, with the aim of positioning DIFC as the region’s leading innovation destination for FinTech.