What it is

The Innovation Testing Licence (ITL) Programme is the DFSA’s version of a regulatory sandbox.

How it works

Licences under the ITL Programme typically work in the following way:

Who is eligible

To be eligible for the ITL Programme, an applicant and its business must meet the criteria as set out in DFSA Rule, GEN 13.4

How to apply

Fill In the Pre-application Form to Apply.

Contacts and FAQs

Contacts and FAQs.

15 Nov 2021

Guidance for Enabling Technologies

14 Nov 2021

DFSA Regulatory Regimes for Crowdfunding, Money Services and Investment Tokens

Market engagement

We aim to be accessible and open in our thinking and our focus to create a dynamic and sustainable innovative ecosystem in the DIFC.

We aim to foster an open and transformative environment in the DIFC to discuss and promote financial and technological innovation and the associated challenges, risks, benefits and opportunities. 

We are committed to actively engaging and growing with the wider financial services markets and understand the value, confidence and transparency that such engagement brings. We frequently engage with the global community and attend international, regional, and local events, both as delegates and speakers. 

We are committed to a future of innovative and dedicate specific resources and expertise to grow our innovative DIFC community.

Upcoming and recent events and publications

Market Engagement

A Market Overview of Digital Custody for Digital Assets – Digital Custodian Whitepaper


Progress Report 2020 – The DFSA’s Innovation Programme

The DFSA published

The Revolution and Evolution of Digital Asset

Risks, Threats and Potential Opportunities for the Financial Services Industry

Bryan Stirewalt, CEO, DFSA

The Deloitte Regulatory and Financial Crime Conference

Digital Disruption in Financial Services from Local, Regional, and global Perspectives

Peter Smith, MD, DFSA

at the Banker Middle East Summit

Market Engagement

RegTech Live - Driving Compliance Through Innovation

1 Australia Australian Securities and Investments Commission (2017)
2 Japan Financial Services Agency of Japan (2018)
3 Hong Kong Hong Kong Insurance Authority (2017)
4 Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (2017)
5 Singapore Monetary Authority of Singapore (2018)
6 Luxembourg Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier (2019)
7 Malaysia Securities Commission Malaysia (2018)
8 Hong Kong Hong Kong Monetary Authority (2017)
9 Thailand The Securities and Exchange Commission of Thailand (2022)

DIFC FinTech Hive

We are actively engaged with the DIFC FinTech Hive and the innovative businesses that participate in the Hive’s various innovation programmes including the FinTech Accelerator Programme, Scale-up Programme, and Startup Bootcamp.

To find out more about the DIFC FinTech Hive

Visit Here

Not sure where to start?

One of the first things to understand is whether you need to be regulated. To do so, you need to check the DFSA Rulebook to ascertain whether your proposed business activity is a regulated financial services activity. This will help in determining whether you need to be licensed by the DFSA to operate your business in or from the DIFC.

I need to be regulated. What next? 

If the products or services you offer, or business activities you propose to conduct, fall within a regulated financial service, you have two options.

  • Apply for a conventional DFSA Authorisation. Click here for more information on the Authorisation process
  • Apply for a DFSA Innovation Testing Licence (ITL). Find out more about the ITL below.

I don’t need to be regulated

If your products or services or business activities are not a regulated financial service, you will not require a licence from the DFSA to operate in or from the DIFC. This could be because you are a technology provider or are partnering with regulated firms. However, the DFSA may still be interested in hearing more about what you are doing if your business or service offering involves an innovative technology. 

I am not sure if I need to be regulated

It may not be clear whether the service you provide, or intend to provide, is a financial service that requires DFSA Authorisation. If this is the case, take a look at GEN Rule 2.2 in the DFSA Rulebook Modules and review our recent consultation papers. If you are still uncertain, you may wish to consider seeking advice from appropriate legal and other professional advisers specialising. If after seeking advice, you are still uncertain, you may contact the DFSA.

Still have questions? Contact the DFSA.

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