Dubai expands experimental licence scheme for fintechs

The programme allows qualifying companies to test new concepts within Dubai International Financial Centre

Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) has announced the expansion of its innovation licence programme for financial technology (fintech) firms.

The programme, announced last May, allows qualifying companies to test new concepts within Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) without being subject to the same regulatory requirements as normal firms.

Read: Dubai reduces regulation for fintech firms with new licence

DFSA said on Wednesday it would put forward a cohort of six companies to begin the licence application process including the development of a regulatory test plan describing the proposed business model, product or service.

If successful they will begin an up to 12-month testing period. At the end of the period firms will have to have achieved agreed targets to obtain a full licence.

“Although a number of firms have already been granted an ITL, in order to provide the necessary support to these applicants, we have introduced the cohort approach to reviewing applications and believe this will provide the best outcome for firms with hopes of contributing to the Dubai and UAE economy,” said DFSA managing director of supervision Bryan Stirewalt.

Applications for a second cohort will open in September to coincide with DIFC’s 12-week FinTech Hive accelerator programme.

Two of the first 12 firms to complete the accelerator course have transitioned to the innovation licence programme.

Read: Dubai FinTech Hive accelerator selects first 11 finalists

Financial centres in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi have also announced similar licence concepts as they compete for fintech talent.

Read: Bahrain opens fintech hub

Last November, DIFC launched a $100m fund to invest in financial technology start-ups.

Read: Dubai International Financial Centre launches $100m fintech fund