The Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) hosted an outreach session on the opportunities financial technology (FinTech) presents in the Middle East. The seminar was held jointly with the FinTech Hive at DIFC, Hawkamah Institute for Corporate Governance and the Middle East Investor Relations Association (MEIRA) on May 8.
The event provided a forum to discuss the current conditions for establishing a FinTech operation in the region, with applications such as financing for small to medium-sized enterprise and financial inclusion. Over 120 delegates from the region’s FinTech industry as well as firms operating in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) attended the event.
In his opening remarks, Bryan Stirewalt, Managing Director of Supervision at the DFSA, gave an overview on how the FinTech movement is proving to be disruptive to the traditional financial sector and regulators alike. Mr Stirewalt highlighted the need to have balance between promoting growth, protecting financial stability and consumers, and allowing market innovation and development.
Mr Stirewalt said: “We at the DFSA have a regulatory framework that facilitates the development of FinTech and maintains appropriate safeguards. This year, the DFSA has added a focus on innovation to its list of strategic themes, and we look forward to working with the new FinTech accelerator in the DIFC.”
Dr Ashraf Gamaleldin, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Hawkamah Institute for Corporate Governance, said: “As Dubai and the UAE push for further innovations, good governance always has to be present fuelling this growth. During this high-growth phase for FinTech, regulators must be flexible to encourage the growth of the industry while keeping their eyes on the risks and rights of investors and stakeholders.”
Alex MacDonald-Vitale, Chairman of MEIRA, said: “We are delighted to continue supporting the efforts of the FinTech Hive at DIFC, the DFSA and Hawkamah in delivering the latest in industry developments. New technologies have already brought exciting and evolutionary steps forward for markets across the world. FinTech is offering listed companies and their investors access to a range of highly efficient and versatile tools, helping improve communication and engagement, as well as regulatory governance overall; all of which are key requirements for an industry in which operational resilience and consumer protection are paramount.”
Raja Al Mazrouei, Acting Executive Vice President at the FinTech Hive at DIFC, said: “The UAE government has a strong national agenda for innovation which enables the adaptation of technological advancement in the region. FinTech Hive at DIFC is the MEASA’s first FinTech accelerator, and the Dubai International Financial Centre, positioned at the heart of the region and offering a world-class ecosystem, is committed to leading initiatives that answer the growing needs of its financial services sector.”
Other speakers at event included Paul Boots, Founding Partner of Osprey Advisory, Former COO of Beehive, and Sam Quawasmi, Co-CEO and Co-Founder of Eureeca, who shared their experiences of establishing a FinTech business in the region. Yuvraj Singh, Head of Application Development at Thomson Reuters moderated the discussion.
The DFSA’s efforts follow the launch of the FinTech Hive at DIFC 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 peer-to-peer (P2P) payments, and Sharia-based services.
Since the start of 2017, the DFSA has published two consultation papers on Crowdfunding, which aim to formalise its approach to loan-based and investment-based platforms. The DFSA also issued a consultation paper on Innovations Testing Licence that will allow FinTech firms to test out their strategy in the DIFC within the existing regulatory framework, making it the first such licence in the UAE.
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