With the first panel of DWIC18 day two focussing on the DIFC’s Fintech Hive, we take a look at what has been achieved
The FinTech Hive, launched January 2017, is the jewel in the crown of the Dubai International Financial Centre’s (DIFC) innovation strategy, which was set in place in mid-2016. Fast-forward 18 months and, just one year after launching, FinTech Hive has seen the completion of its first cycle.
Global Reinsurance takes a lot at the innovation hub’s first 12 months, and the impact this initiative has had on the region.
FinTech Hive, based in the DIFC, is the first fintech accelerator in the region. It was launched in partnership with Accenture and relies on its three core pillars to set it apart from similar ventures in the US and Europe; these are: ground-up development, connectivity, and ecosystem. The latter is a particular strength of the DIFC, which has managed to create a focal point for capital, talent and infrastructure in the region.
Initially, the DIFC hub brought together 11 start-ups that had demonstrated a proof of concept in various areas of fintech. These addressed some of the key areas of interest and development for the industry, such as artificial intelligence, big data, blockchain and robotics.
But this was not an exercise in keeping up with the Jones and stepping into the paths lightly trodden by more developed markets. Rather, DIFC took a fresh stance when exploring technology in the financial sectors. At DWIC 2017, senior DIFC figures spoke to the market about the need for innovation and stated that FinTech Hive would start with the market need it intended to tackle. The team asked for the submission of ‘problem statements’ as a basis for exploration.
One year on, and FinTech Hive celebrates the conclusion of its inaugural 12-week programme cycle. During its ‘Investor Day’ 11 start-ups from the accelerator’s initial programme presented their products to an audience of over 300 investors and stakeholders.
DIFC has aimed to be a hub for the region and a beacon for international business – and this has truly been achieved through FinTech Hive. The finalist for the first cycle of the accelerator programme have come from the Middle East, Asia, Europe and the US.
Accenture senior managing director EMEA Sushil Saluja believes it is paramount for regions like the Middle East to continue to support innovative endeavours like FinTech Hive.
Saluja says: “Around the world, we have witnessed the exponential benefits that technology and innovation can bring to businesses and to society in general. The MEASA region is no exception, having shown tremendous potential, thanks to the ingenuity of our local talent. We are proud to say that the Investor Day was a success in every sense of the word.”
Saluja adds: “Key industry executives were thrilled by the impressive solutions presented to them by our finalists. Fintech Hive presents an important local platform that gives budding talent the tools needed to grow and succeed. We are confident that it will bring endless opportunities while positioning the UAE as a natural Fintech hub.”
Moving forward, FinTech Hive will launch two more programmes in 2018 – one will focus on RegTech and one on InsurTech.
DIFC Authority chief executive Arif Amiri says: “Building on our success as one of the world’s top 10 financial centres, we began this year with the launch of a first-of-its-kind accelerator to the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region, as a key part of building a comprehensive FinTech ecosystem. We are delighted to announce that we are tripling our commitment to FinTech in 2018. In addition to Fintech Hive at DIFC, we will be running two new programmes, with a focus on RegTech and InsurTech, reinforcing our role in shaping the future of financial services for the MEASA region.”
With triple the output planned for the year ahead, the FinTech Hive is definitely one to watch.