Dubai’s IFC becomes a hive of activity for Fintech start-ups

Rutam V Vora | | Updated on: Nov 01, 2018

More themes give the incubator a global play

FinTech Hive, an arm of Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), is emerging a platform to incubate fintech start-ups from not just the UAE, but also the US, the UK and India besides other South Asian, African and European countries.

DIFC, in partnership with IT major Accenture set up FinTech Hive a year ago to incubate tech-focussed enterprises, start-ups and SMEs to create fintech solutions for financial institutions in West Asia, Africa and South Asia.

Indian presence

In its second year, Fintech Hive received over 300 applications from 45 countries. As many as 25 per cent of he applications were from Dubai-based start-ups, 8 per cent from the UK and 7 per cent each from India and the US. As against one theme last year, FinTech Hive introduced more themes for innovation in InsureTech (insurance), Regional Tech and Islamic FinTech.

Out of the 300 applications, 22 start-ups were chosen as against 11 last year for the 12-week accelerator programme. As part of the programme, the start-ups will undergo training under the guidance and mentorship of leading financial institutions and insurance companies from across the globe. This year, the programme has 60 partners, including 22 financial institutions.

“The start-ups are given an opportunity to test and develop their innovations in collaboration with senior executives from renowned financial institutions. We give them access to top banks,” said Shereen Abdulla, senior manager- Fintech, DIFC.


As part of DIFC, Fintech startups do not have corporate tax, while they are incentivised with subsidised licence fees and rent to operate from DIFC.

Start-ups demonstrate proof of concept in various FinTech fields, such as artificial intelligence, big data and analytics, the blockchain, payments, P2P and crowdfunding, and robo-advisors.

Most of these start-ups end up engaging with banking institutions, while some Fintechs even get into the corporate side of banking. This year, there will be opportunities in the insurance sector as well.

Notably, the UAE has a National Innovation Strategy, which drives innovations, but at the federal level, currently there is no Fintech agenda barring some private and government-funded Fintech accelerator programmes.

(The writer was in Dubai recently at the invitation of the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, Government of Dubai)

Published on November 01, 2018
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