Key Fintech Initiatives Shaping the Sector in the UAE 

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Key Fintech Initiatives Shaping the Sector in the UAE

Key Fintech Initiatives Shaping the Sector in the UAE 

The United Arab Emirates has taken various steps to create an environment that is conducive to the growth of the fintech market in the country. The UAE is leading the MENA’s fintech market, reaching a record high of USD 2.5 billion in 2022.  This achievement has been greatly supplemented by the role played by the UAE Government, as the support has played a differentiating role in the success of the UAE’s fintech initiatives.  

In this blog, we’ve taken a deep dive into the national initiatives undertaken by the UAE Government to promote the fintech market. Get the knowledge by reading on. 

UAE Fintech Office

In Dec 2020, the Central Bank of UAE (CBUAE) launched its Fintech office to support Fintech activities in the banking sector. It facilitated the establishment of a UAE-approved regulatory framework in cooperation with other Fintech authorities in the UAE (including in the DIFC and ADGM). The new office aims to develop a mature Fintech ecosystem within the UAE and position the nation as a Fintech hub regionally and globally.

National Innovation Strategy

In 2014, the UAE launched the National Innovation Strategy, which aims to make the UAE among the most innovative countries in the world by 2021. In recent years, the UAE has accomplished a series of significant achievements in the field of innovation covering all sectors, most notably the development of educational systems, boosting computer use and smart devices in schools, and establishing several technological institutes.

National Artificial Intelligence Strategy 2031

In April 2019, the UAE Cabinet adopted the National Artificial Intelligence Strategy 2031, a 10-year strategy that aims to develop frameworks for AI adoption across select sectors and make UAE a global leader in AI by 2031. The UAE is cultivating ties with foreign partners, establishing agreements with India, China, and Israel. In 2019, Chinese firm UBTech Robotics clinched a US$362M contract to set up AI labs for Emirati students.

Emirates Blockchain Strategy 2021

In April 2018, the UAE government launched the Emirates Blockchain Strategy 2021. It aims to shift 50% of government transactions to the blockchain within 3 years. Smart Dubai made great strides towards digitizing the Dubai Government. It includes Dubai Pay, a centralized payment gateway for government payment collection, and UAE PASS, a national digital identity platform. The Dubai Paperless Strategy, which utilizes blockchain, digitizes completely digitizes government transactions internally and externally.

Key Fintech Initiatives by DIFC

DIFC| Innovation Testing License (ITL)

The DFSA regulatory sandbox helps innovative Fintech startups test their products in a controlled environment. As founding members of the Global Financial Innovation Network (GFIN), DIFC participates in setting the initiative’s strategic direction. ITL provides firms the flexibility to test and develop concepts within the sandboxed environment subject to various restrictions and modifications.

DIFC| Fintech Hive

DIFC| Fintech Hive is a platform that drives innovation and showcases success by identifying leading technology entrepreneurs and companies and offers an opportunity to develop, test, and modify their innovations in collaboration with DIFC and regional financial institutions such as Emirates NBD, Visa, and HSBC.

DIFC| Fintech Fund

Launched in 2019, and managed by Wamda Capital and Middle Venture Partners, DIFC Fintech Fund reinforces DIFC’s commitment toward Fintech companies through its accelerator program and funding, helping them to grow and scale in the Middle East, Africa, and South Africa (MEASA) markets. In 2020, DIFC has drawn on a US$100 million fund to invest in four fintech companies – FlexxPay, Go Rise, NOW Money, and Sarwa.

Key Fintech Initiatives by ADGM

ADGM| Hub71

ADGM| Hub71 is a flagship initiative of Ghadan21, Abu Dhabi’s accelerator program for businesses in the capital. In partnership with Microsoft, Mubadala, Abu Dhabi Investment Office, ADGM, and SoftBank, Hub 71 offers an interconnected network to enable innovation and growth opportunities for transformational tech and startups. Since its launch in Mar 2019, Hub71 has attracted more than 100 tech startups setting up a base in Abu Dhabi and raising US $50million.

ADGM| Digital Lab

Introduced in Nov 2020, ADGM Digital Lab is a regulated digital environment to allow financial institutions, technology vendors, and Fintech startups to collaborate around new products and business models, under the supervision of the financial regulator. It replaces the previous regulatory sandbox, RegLab, which was launched in 2016. Digital Lab offers access to resources such as data, APIs, system images, and reference architectures.

ADGM| Abu Dhabi Catalyst Partners

Abu Dhabi Catalyst Partners (ADCP) is a joint venture between Mubadala Investment Company based in Abu Dhabi and Falcon Edge Capital, based in New York City. ADCP was established in Apr 2019 with committed capital of US$1billion. ADCP has a dual mandate to achieve financial returns while also contributing to the overall development of the ADGM. In 2021, ADCP invested in Fintech & blockchain organisation, Securrency, social media platform Telegram, and the Middle-East’s rival to Netflix, Starzplay.

Curious about Fintech in MENA?

Read the rest of the blogs in this series by clicking on the links below:


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