Abu Dhabi set to be the next Fintech Hub

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Abu Dhabi could be laying down the foundation to be the next Fintech Hub. Abu Dhabi Global Market has announced an innovation centre among other things to provide FinTech communities an ecosystem for innovation to take root in Abu Dhabi and the region.

Its flashy neighbor Dubai has already setup in August a similar hub, the ‘FinTech Hive’, a platform under the umbrella of Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) with the aim of bringing innovation from around the world to DIFC to serve the financial services sector.

Now, Abu Dhabi is firing all cylinders to catch up on the (relatively) new buzz word ‘FinTech’ by creating and promoting an entrepreneurial ecosystem in the capital city.

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Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) which started off in March 2016 as the newest International Financial Centre (IFC) of Abu Dhabi, acts as both financial centre developer and financial regulator with the objective to make the capital city the top Fintech Hub in the MENA region.

Pioneering the FinTech wave, ADGM has announced 1st FinTech Innovation Centre and Accelerator Partnership with World’s Largest Startup Accelerator ‘Plug and Play’ at the Inaugural FinTech Abu Dhabi Summit that took place during 22-24 October 2017.

These two FinTech initiatives aims to support greater financial innovation, cultivate FinTech talents, foster closer industry collaboration and facilitate more cross-border investment opportunities to bolster the development and growth of financial services in Abu Dhabi and the region.

So, what exactly is Fintech?

The best description on FinTech that we like is from PwC:

Financial technology—FinTech for short—describes the evolving intersection of financial services and technology. The term can refer to startups, technology companies, or even legacy providers. The lines are blurring, and it’s getting harder to know where technology ends and financial services begin. ” – PwC

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ADGM’s new FinTech Initiatives:

FinTech Innovation Centre

ADGM’s Innovation Centre aims to be the hub where FinTech communities can come together to foster an interactive, collaborative and vibrant ecosystem for innovation to take root in Abu Dhabi and the region.

The centre will include a co-working space for FinTech startups to meet with financial institutions, investors and potential partners, as well as state-of-the-art facilities for networking and events. At its core, the Innovation Centre will feature a startup acceleration programme to attract and nurture FinTech entrepreneurs and companies from all over the world to develop and deploy innovative solutions in the region.

The Centre will also be home to participants of the Regulatory Laboratory (RegLab) –ADGM’s regulatory sandbox that allow companies to live-test innovative Fintech products in collaboration with the regulator. ADGM FinTech Innovation Centre will welcome startups focusing on Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, DLTs, Biometrics, E-Payments, RegTech and more that shape and transform financial services in the years to come.

Global Startup Accelerator Partnership with Plug and Play

Another wise move by ADGM is the partnering with Plug and Play, the world’s largest startup accelerator based in Silicon Valley, to launch a startup acceleration programme in Abu Dhabi, focused on FinTech. The Programme will be housed within the ADGM FinTech Innovation Centre. Some of Plug and Play’s success stories include Google, Paypal, Dropbox, Lending Club and other.

H.E Ahmed Al Sayegh, Chairman, of ADGM, said: “We are pleased to announce our partnership with Plug and Play to establish the first-of-its-kind global acceleration programme to support the ADGM FinTech Innovation Centre. As a FinTech Hub, ADGM will continue to actively engage the industry, keep abreast of regulatory developments, innovate, increase talent pool and introduce more and appropriate support to augment the FinTech structure and ecosystem in Abu Dhabi and for the region. We look forward to working closely with Plug and Play to accelerate and expand the FinTech offering and growth in Abu Dhabi and the whole region.”

ADGM work closely with a local and international network of financial regulators, innovators, financial institutions, accelerators and technology companies to support the FinTech ecosystem.

ADGM recently signed a cooperative agreement to exchange information and knowledge on FinTech-related issues with the Securities and Commodities Authority.

ADGM has also established strategic partnerships with Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, Al Ansari Exchange, Du, First Abu Dhabi Bank, Etisalat, UAE Exchange, Let’s Talk Payments, Mastercard Bank, YES Bank and Temenos.

Through the Programme, ADGM hopes to play a central bridging role of working with partner banks and financial institutions to identify the pipeline of strategic needs and challenges of the financial sector in the region – by sourcing for the most promising solutions from global innovators, and assure the deployment of the solutions with participating financial, technological and academic institutions.

As the regulator, ADGM’s role will be to function as a key participant in the ecosystem to introduce or update appropriate regulations and rules to support technology adoption by the financial industry and achieve better regulatory outcomes across the sector.

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