According to an fDi Intelligence inaugural study on financial technology locations, Dubai has been rated seventh, ahead of Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai and Hong Kong for top 10 Fintech locations of the future 2019-20 - economic potential. Dubai was the only Arab city ranked in the list. New York topped the list followed by Tokyo, London, Singapore, Beijing, and Seoul. The economic potential sub-index looks at each city's population, GDP, unemployment rate, laws relating to ICTs, Index of Economic Freedom, days taken to start a business and top 1,000 world banks 2018 among others.
Thanks to Dubai International Financial Centre, Dubai has been taking the lead for the growth of the Fintech industry in the UAE. Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) chairman Saeb Eigner has said that Fintech has been, and will remain, a top priority.
Bryan Stirewalt, CEO of DFSA, said that the DFSA has been working closely with the Dubai Government and Dubai International Financial Centre Authority to establish DIFC as a global Fintech hub.
"In 2018, we expanded our Innovation Testing Licence (ITL) programme. In November, a robo-advisory firm became the first firm to graduate from the DFSA's regulatory sandbox after completion of its Regulatory Test Plan. This milestone exhibits the vital role regulatory sandboxes can play in guiding start-ups as they introduce new services to the financial sector, while making sure that consumers are protected," Stirewalt said.
In August 2018, the DFSA, in collaboration with 11 other financial regulators and associated organisations from around the world, established a Global Financial Innovation Network (GFIN) which will seek to conduct joint policy work, share experiences of financial innovation, and enable cross border testing of innovative financial services.
Moreover, under the overall heading of 'FinTech', DFSA is considering regulating digital assets (including crypto-currencies and tokenised securities), as well as looking at the trading, storage, and marketing of these instruments. "Also in this area, we are considering proposals to regulate the provision of money services, including payments, which has previously not been permitted in the Centre," DFSA said in its annual report.
In addition to the GFIN initiative, DFSA signed two bilateral Fintech-focused agreements with the Financial Services Agency of Japan and the Monetary Authority of Singapore.