Applicants flock to MEASA’s first fintech accelerator

Dubai-based Fintech Hive attracts high level of interest, with contenders eager for mentorship and advice from firms such as Accenture and HSBC

More than 100 applicants from at least 32 countries have thrown their hats in the ring to join the inaugural phase of a groundbreaking fintech venture set up by Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC).

As a leading finance hub in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the organisation launched the Fintech Hive at DIFC in January this year to provide the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region with its first-ever fintech accelerator.

With the majority of the Hive’s contenders hailing from the US, UK, India, Nigeria and Singapore – as well as the UAE itself – their concepts cover a broad range of hot-button financial technologies, such as big data, analytics, blockchain, payments, crowdfunding, robo-advisory and mobile money.

The accelerator’s outlook is based around three pillars:

  1. Ground-up development Nurturing novel and customised solutions focused on meeting specific, industry needs;
  2. Global connectivity Creating a worldwide community to foster the innovative approaches that will lead to the development of further solutions; and
  3. Ecosystem development Building a collaborative value chain comprised of capital, infrastructure and talent that will bring new ideas to fruition.

Fintech Hive at DIFC’s acting executive vice president Raja Al Mazrouei said: “With more than $23.2bn invested in global fintech deals in 2016, the programme is filling a considerable gap in the market by linking innovative tech thinkers to financial industry leaders in an ecosystem that accommodates the full supply chain.

“We are encouraged by the high calibre of applications, and we are confident that Fintech Hive at DIFC will accelerate innovation in the region and will put us on par with other fintech hubs around the world.”

Shortlisted applicants will have the opportunity to be mentored by senior executives from the Hive’s primary project partner, Accenture.

Mentoring and advice will also be available from executives at Citi, Emirates NBD, Emirates Islamic, HSBC, Mashreq, RAKBANK, Standard Chartered and Visa – plus senior representatives from DIFC Authority, the financial hub’s strategy wing.

Additional technology mentorship will come from Facebook and Envestnet | Yodlee.

Sushil Saluja – Accenture’s senior managing director for financial services in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America – said: “Given the significant interest that this programme has garnered, it is evident that innovative thinkers and established industry leaders are eager to create strong ties.

“Both have recognised that mutual collaboration is the key to unlocking a world of cutting-edge solutions, which may otherwise not have been possible without critical mentorship.”

He added: “With the potential to create game-changing technologies for the financial services industry in areas such as big data, blockchain and wireless payments, this is an exciting space.”

Find out more about Fintech Hive at DIFC here.

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