UAE to act as 'beating heart' of financial innovation in Middle East

New report says the UAE is ideally positioned to facilitate development of digitally enabled financial solutions for the region
UAE to act as 'beating heart' of financial innovation in Middle East
By Sam Bridge
Mon 02 Jul 2018 02:45 PM

The UAE is ideally positioned to serve as the "beating heart" of a regional innovation hub, according to a new report published by Oliver Wyman in collaboration with Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC).

The report reveals how Dubai is strategically positioned to facilitate development of digitally enabled financial solutions for the region.

There has been a significant push for the advancement of financial inclusion globally with 1.7 billion of the world’s global working population still lacking access to formal financial services.

The report said nearly 50 percent of all financially excluded and underserved individuals are currently situated in the MEASA region. An average of 48 percent of the working adult population owns a financial account compared to a global average of 69 percent, and conditions across MEASA continue to constrain access to both traditional and digital financial services for the currently financially excluded population.

“In a financially inclusive environment, individuals and businesses can conveniently access a variety of financial services at low cost and are offered products that are tailored to their specific needs. For a significant share of the population across MEASA this is currently not possible. While many existing efforts are underway across the region, these are often heavily fragmented and make a large-scale advancement challenging,” said Greg Rung, partner, Financial Services, Oliver Wyman.

“There is an urgent need for reforms to overcome this disparity. This however requires the collaboration of a broad array of stakeholders from across the financial, technology and government sectors. Given their rapid evolution, digital technologies are a critical catalyst in achieving financial inclusion. The proposed hub will support centralisation of efforts and identify opportunities for scalable solutions,” he added.

The report said Dubai combines a unique set of features that ideally position it to become the centre of the innovation hub. It is already recognised as a global and regional economic and financial hub with strong financial expertise. In addition, Dubai’s commitment to financial innovation is embedded in its financial services and national visions, such as Smart Dubai and Dubai Plan 2021.

Arif Amiri, CEO at the DIFC Authority, said: “Delivering financial services to more people across the region has become a necessity that Dubai, and the UAE as a whole, are perfectly positioned to contribute to. The world-class infrastructure and innovation ecosystem that Dubai has built, and continues to enhance, provide an enabling environment for technology and disruptive businesses to create more inclusive solutions and services for the entire region.”

He added: “At DIFC, we have already made important strides towards nurturing an integrated ecosystem that can unlock the potential of emerging trends such as FinTech and InsurTech in the region. We believe that this will not only transform the way the financial services industry operates, but will also create a positive wave of social impact and economic gains across the MEASA countries.”

DIFC hosts over 1,853 active registered companies and a Fintech community of over 50 firms and numerous FinTech-related clients.

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