The Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) published a new FinTech consultation paper on 6 March 2017 entitled “Testing FinTech Innovations in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC)”. The paper is the third in a series, setting out the DFSA’s approach to FinTech regulation.

The DFSA had previously determined that the current regime for regulating firms in the DIFC was flexible enough to accommodate many aspects of FinTech without introducing new rules. The latest consultation sets out the DFSA’s approach to FinTech firms that want to test innovative products and services in the DIFC. Firms meeting the qualifying criteria will receive a Financial Services Licence, referred to as an Innovation Testing Licence, which reflects the nature of the activities to be conducted during the testing phase. The DFSA will put in place limits on the FinTech testing activities to ensure appropriate controls for the safety of any customers involved. Given the limits on activities permitted during testing, FinTech firms will not have to comply with DFSA Rules where they are inappropriate at a testing stage. The testing phase is a step towards the FinTech firm obtaining a full Financial Services Licence.

Earlier in 2016 the DFSA launched two consultations which proposed frameworks for the regulation of loan-based and investment-based crowdfunding platforms. The DFSA’s consultations follow the DIFC’s launch of the FinTech Hive Accelerator programme in January 2017, the first such accelerator programme in the region. The programme provides a platform for financial services and technology firms to build solutions for the financial sector.