Accenture leading outsourcing firm in Asia to launch a new accelerator program in middle east and Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), the financial hub for the Middle East, Africa and South Asian (MEASA) region, announced the region’s first FinTech accelerator in Dubai.
Set to launch in the first quarter of 2017, FinTech Hive at DIFC will bring cutting-edge financial services technology to the MEASA markets, while providing a platform that brings financial services and technology firms together. Its goal is to increase access to, and improve customer experience and drive operational efficiencies in, 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, His Excellency 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 managing director 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 US$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 US$386 million in venture financing after participating in the programme. This new Accelerator is further demonstration of DIFC’s commitment to providing an internationally oriented FinTech ecosystem that meets the specific needs of the Middle East, Africa and South Asia, in line with Dubai Plan 2021 and the DIFC 2024 Strategy.
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.
Arif Amiri, Chief Executive Officer of DIFC Authority, said, “In 2004, DIFC led the development of global financial services by linking the top financial centres around the world to the region. The FinTech Hive at DIFC is a continuation of our vision to link, develop, and adapt top financial technologies to the region. DIFC is fast becoming a pivotal hub in the global economy, already being home to 17 of the world’s top 20 banks, with over 1,500 firms and 21,000 employees – most of whom are exploring FinTech solutions to tap into the world’s fastest growing economies. We are committed to providing a diverse and forward-thinking ecosystem to support FinTech innovation.”
Omar Boulos, regional managing director of Accenture in the Middle East and North Africa, said, “The digital era will define the region’s future in terms of liquidity and growth. The FinTech market, with a global investment of $22.3 billion in 2015, has already begun revolutionizing the banking industry by offering new ways of unlocking resources and capital, while driving efficiency and creating new partnerships. With 99 percent of consumers in the UAE using a mobile or smartphone, FinTech has the potential to make a real difference.”
Emirates NBD and Mashreq will be the first local financial institutions to join the accelerator programme, while HSBC and VISA are the first international financial services providers.