According to a recent report by Bloomberg Intelligence, fintech startups in the region is forecast to expand from 96 in 2019 to 465 by 2020 and the investment into Middle East fintech via venture capital is expected to grow to USD 2 billion in 2022. Here we explore the growth of fintech in the region and opportunities for potential investment and business setup in the UAE.
Over the recent years, the UAE has emerged as a leader in the regional financial sector across the Middle East and Africa. Today, the UAE is home to approximately one third of the fintech startups in the region, with businesses set up in Dubai or Abu Dhabi. Even though the UAE has showed a fast growing number of fintech startups, the level of investment in the region is still modest. Between 2010 and 2017, over USD 90 billion was invested in fintech startups globally, however, only 1% of this was allocated to companies in the Middle East and Africa, according to a report by Accenture and Fintech Hive.
As part of the UAE Vision 2021, the government aims to transform the country into a regional fintech leader and become one of the world’s top ten innovation leaders by 2021. The country is fast-emerging as a launch pad for startups in the region, with Dubai and Abu Dhabi being the most prominent destinations for business setup due to their advanced technological infrastructure.
In 2018, there were significant measures taken to establish solid foundations with new regulatory frameworks, government support, more venture-capital investment and banking partnerships. The UAE Ministry of Finance is continuously evolving and introducing new reforms to support innovations and establish the right environment for the growth of fintech firms in the country as part of its national innovation strategy.
The UAE government has also introduced a number of initiatives aimed to foster the growth of the fintech ecosystem. For instance, the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) launched the RegLab to allow financial institutions and new entrants to develop and test their fintech proposition and Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) launched the Fintech Hive – a fintech accelerator programme specifically for FinTechs, InsurTechs, RegTechs, and Islamic FinTechs.
Furthermore, the UAE government has announced several startup funds as well as support programs in the UAE to nurture innovators in various fields. Mohammed Bin Rashid Innovation Fund is a USD544 million fund which supports resident individuals and companies who offer unique and innovative technological solutions, products or services. DIFC recently also announced the launch of a new women-only accelerator program – AccelerateHer to drive female fintech talent. AccelerateHer is a mentorship programme which aims to empower budding women entrepreneurs with the necessary tools and experience to become more active in the region’s fintech landscape development.
The Expo Live Innovation Impact Grant Programme, is another such initiative which aims to fund novel and innovative solutions that address Expo 2020 Dubai’s overall theme: Connecting Minds, Creating the Future. It will award up to US$100,000 per application depending on the maturity and scalability of innovations. Dubai SME also offers financing options and support services including advisory and incubatory services to small and medium enterprises (SMEs), startups and established businesses.
Earlier this year, the Abu Dhabi government announced the launch of Hub71, a USD 142 million tech hub to support the tech startups. Takamul is another national innovation support program developed and operated by the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development which provides support to inventors in protecting and commercializing technologies that would help accelerate the goals as set out in the Abu Dhabi 2030 Economic Vision.
If you are a budding fintech entrepreneur looking to setup business in the UAE, Creative Zone can help you register your company in the UAE. Our experts can establish your company on your behalf, make your license and visa applications, and take care of all the necessary admin – making UAE company formation easy letting you focus on securing investments for your start-up.
We offer free zone licenses across the UAE in:
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To schedule a consultation with one of our Business Setup Advisors, call 800-LICENSE (5423673) or email [email protected].