Dubai has expressed its aspirations to become the next FinTech hub. The city has enjoyed decades of rapid growth - and has developed its infrastructure to become a key business center which has now firmly switched its focus towards the FinTech sector.
Last month, The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) launched a new FinTech accelerator program in collaboration with global consulting firm Accenture. The aim of the initiative is to provide mentorship to start-up entrepreneurs in order to support their innovative development. It has also been further disclosed that the program aims to transform DIFC into a global FinTech hub.
The accelerator program will last for 12 weeks, which will consist of entrepreneurs coming together to work with each other to identify and address the needs of the FinTech industry.
Accenture's senior managing director for Financial Services in Europe, Africa, Middle East and Latin America, Sushil Saluja, believes DIFC has all the capabilities required to become a FinTech hub. "DIFC is uniquely positioned to become the regional hub for FinTech."
Analysts have suggested that the reasoning behind the initiative is due to the explosive growth of local start-ups, such as ride-hailing service Careem, mobile payment provider Beam Wallet and online shopping platform Souq.com.
Careem has enjoyed exceptional growth in the region, and co-founder Magnus Olsson has announced that the organization is seeing monthly revenue growth of 25% to 30% and has around six million users, employs 150,000 drivers and services around 52 cities across eleven countries in the Middle East, Turkey, Pakistan and North Africa. He also indicated that the company planned to expand operations to between 70 and 80 cities by the end of 2017.
Dubai's 'Smart City' is ready and a Dubai-government-owned telecommunications corporation plans to utilize Dubai's Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem through a strategic partnership with Nokia.
Last December, the two companies established the Innovation and Creativity Lab, with a purpose of providing solutions that aid in government and mission-critical services across various business areas, including education, healthcare, public facilities and transportation.
In 1999, the Dubai government initiated the 'Smart Dubai Initiative' - at a time when global internet penetration stood at less than 5%. However, according to Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the program has continued to grow rapidly since its inception and Dubai now boasts an incredible 545 smart services from a whole host of various partners and government entities.
News of Dubai's plan to create a FinTech hub has been greeted positively by a number of leading experts in the sector. Head of Innovation at Synechron, David Horton said Dubai is more than capable of giving cities such as New York, London and Singapore a run for their money as a thriving FinTech center.
Horton said: "The city's environment for various business industries is one of its strong points. The emergence of new and influential business ventures has led to increased demand for online and e-commerce business. Such environment is optimal for running a digital-first business."
"Dubai has always been at the forefront of technology adoption on multiple levels. It is forward-thinking beyond its years and is a stable place for setting up roots in the long term," said Gaurav Dhar, owner of Marshal Equipment & Trading.