The Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC) is set to launch the FinTech Hive—an accelerator program for developing financial technology (fintech) start-ups and entrepreneurs—in the first quarter of 2017. The FinTech Hive will provide selected companies the opportunity to test and modify their fintech advances with the support of DIFC executives as well as regional and international financial institutions.
This launch comes at a time when, globally, fintech has brought in around $50 billion of venture capital and private equity investments between 2010 and 2014 (according to the consulting firm William Garrity Associates), of which the Middle East and Africa combined has attracted only about 2.44%.
This program follows other fintech programs that have launched in the region:
- In late 2016, Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) launched a “sandbox” Fintech Regulatory Laboratory (RegLab) incubator program. RegLab is designed to allow participants to develop and test business ideas in a lighter regulatory environment for two years—with the option to apply for a full financial license thereafter.
- Bahrain also recently announced a plan to become a fintech hub for the region.
- Dubai is currently supporting technology start-ups and partnerships through its Future
Accelerators program, which pairs government departments with innovative companies to find solutions to 21st century challenges. The program is headquartered in a 22,000 square foot building, where eight accelerators work in collaboration with government departments to focus on the education, health, infrastructure, transportation, security, energy, and finance sectors. Thirty companies from the 2,274 applicants have been selected to participate in this program.
About 150–200 companies are expected to take part in the FinTech Hive over a five-year period, and no specific funding amount has been provided. The FinTech Hive is also interested in growing companies that have a product currently deployed outside of financial services but that are interested in entering this sector.