Dubai to support African FinTech

The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and professional services firm Accenture are set to launch a fintech accelerator that will support startups from Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

Expected in the first quarter of 2017, FinTech Hive at DIFC aims to provide a platform that brings financial services and technology firms together and increase access to the financial services sector.

The global FinTech sector has attracted more than $50 billion in investment since 2010, but currently the Middle East and North Africa only attract around one percent of that investment. The DIFC Accelerator intends to bridge this gap by creating a platform that drives innovation and showcases success - identifying leading technology entrepreneurs and companies through a competitive process and offering them the opportunity to develop, test and modify their innovations in collaboration with top executives from DIFC and regional financial institutions.

Commenting on the launch of FinTech Hive at DIFC, Essa Kazim, Governor of Dubai International Financial Centre and Chairman of DIFC Authority Board of Directors, said: "We are proud to be launching FinTech Hive at DIFC following the recent announcement of the world's first government accelerator programmes by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai. The UAE National Innovation Strategy and Dubai Plan 2021 steer us to be among the smartest cities in the world. With our founding Membership in the Global Blockchain Council and today's launch, DIFC is pioneering innovative developments in the MEASA's financial services sector, while taking our economies to new horizons."

Sushil Saluja, senior MD of Financial Services in Europe, Africa and Latin America at Accenture, said: "DIFC is uniquely positioned to become the regional hub for FinTech. By putting together local banks and FinTech firms to ideate, collaborate and partner, DIFC is helping both sectors be at the forefront of the financial services industry. The accelerator programme will identify the best entrepreneurs within the financial services industry and grant them invaluable access to, and feedback from, potential customers and funders."

Accenture was chosen to set up and operate the DIFC Accelerator because of its experience and expertise in building and running FinTech Innovation Labs. Accenture founded its first FinTech Innovation Lab in 2010 in New York with the Partnership Fund for New York City, the $150 million investment arm of the Partnership for New York City. Accenture launched its second Lab in London, modelled after the New York Lab, and opened two other Labs in 2014 in Hong Kong and Dublin. Globally, the Labs' alumni companies have raised more than $386 million in venture financing after participating in the programme.

FinTech Hive at DIFC will start with a 12-week accelerator programme, which will bring together the next generation of leaders and entrepreneurs to compete and address the growing needs of the region's financial services industry, using innovative technology solutions. It intends to catalyse the growth and efficiency in a variety of areas including trade finance, alternative finance such as P2P payments, and Sharia-based services.