Dubai International Financial Centre’s (DIFC) inaugural FinTech Hive accelerator programme has started with the first batch of 11 finalists.

As reported in April, DIFC called for applications for its FinTech Hive. The 12-week programme is designed to help early and growth-stage firms accelerate product and business development by gaining exposure to financial institution executives.

Raja Al Mazrouei, acting EVP of FinTech Hive at DIFC, says the 11 start-ups “demonstrate a delicate balance of remarkable vision, practical application and commercial potential in the fintech space”.

In the first phase, each finalist will meet with executives from the accelerator’s financial institution partners – including Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, Citi, Dubai Islamic Bank, Emirates Islamic, Emirates NBD, HSBC, Mashreq, Network International, Rakbank, Standard Chartered and Visa – in which they will discuss industry challenges and possible solutions to address them.

Participants will also meet with representatives from Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre (DIEDC) and UAE Exchange. During these meetings, the executives will hear more about the technology, provide preliminary feedback and discuss potential mentorship opportunities.

The second phase will revolve around engagement with partners and mentorship by the financial institutions, as well as other select partners who will cover technology, legal, Islamic finance and regulatory themes to name a few. DIEDC will connect the finalists with fellow entrepreneurs in Islamic fintech at a dedicated start-up event.

DIFC says Envestnet | Yodlee, Facebook and IBM have been brought on board as technology partners. Senior executives from DIFC Authority, Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) and Accenture will also be available with advice.

The third and final phase will be pitch preparation for the investor day in mid-November. On this day, each start-up will promote its product to a host of investors, bankers, government officials and members of the media.

DIFC states that the firms will benefit from the recently introduced innovation testing licence (ITL), which allows qualifying firms to develop and test their concepts from within the DIFC, without being subject to the regulatory requirements that normally apply to regulated firms.

The finalists are:

  • Bridg (UAE) – Communication technology that allows smartphones to send and receive money while offline;
  • Delio (UK) – Solution for financial institutions and advisors by offering private deal flow with “high net worth and ultra-high net worth capital”;
  • Labiba (Jordan) – Helps businesses create chat bots for marketing, operational and support functions;
  • Maliyya (Azerbaijan) – Shariah-compliant P2P financing and investment start-up. Plans to use big data, artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain;
  • Middleware (US) – Offers Share CreditCard, a technology that allows customers to share access to the money on their cards instead of making a money transfer.
  • Norbloc (Sweden) – Focuses on regulatory applications built on distributed ledgers and offers a know your customer (KYC) platform;
  • Sarwa (UAE) – Hybrid automated investment management platform for “young professionals” in the Middle East;
  • Semantify (US) – Helps users interact with business data via “semantic and conversational interactions” using data analytics;
  • Starling Trust (US) – Applied behavioural sciences regtech start-up helping financial services firms to manage culture- and conduct-related risks;
  • Theme Chain (India) – Offers blockchain eco system on Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) for trade finance businesses;
  • WeInvest (Singapore) – Digital wealth management solutions provider.

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