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Is Abu Dhabi Set to Become a Financial Technology Capital?

Abu Dhabi is aiming to establish itself as a leading capital for financial technology. Ahmed Al Sayegh, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Global Market, announced the plan to be a leading player in the Arabian Gulf at the recent Global Financial Markets Forum.

His vision involves getting a slice of the fast-growing industry, which is said to have grown three-fold in the past three years and could well be worth $12 million.

“We have not yet seen a deeply established FINTECH ecosystem in the GCC. Our intention is to promote Abu Dhabi as the FINTECH hub in the GCC in partnership with key stakeholders.”, The National Reported

A ‘roadmap’ will now be produced to show how Abu Dhabi can make good on that ambition.

What is FINTECH?

FINTECH, as Investopedia points out, originally referred to the back-end of consumer and trade financial institutions but now includes technological innovations in the finance sector.

This covers consumer apps that track their accounts right through to companies such as IG, which allow users quick and easy access to CFD trading and forex. Mobile wallets, payment apps, robo-advisors crowdfunding platforms and online lending platforms are all now part of the mix and growing in prominence across the globe.

What is Fintech

Where are the Key Player in FINTECH?

By working closely with its partners, Abu Dhabi is likely to be able to establish a regional role for itself in a sector of growing prominence. Globally, its rivals are likely to be San Francisco and London – which are widely seen to be vying for the crown of the world leader for FINTECH.

As L’Atelier notes, San Francisco is just edging this at the moment – especially given the uncertainty surrounding London’s relationship with Europe in the wake of the recent EU Referendum. It highlights how Silicon Valley is the number one region in the world when it comes to attracting investment. More than half of all global investment – 56 percent – is made in the US, with the majority going to the San Francisco region. More than a tenth of this focuses on FINTECH.

The region is a hotbed of startups all looking to follow in the footsteps of market leaders like Paypal, Square and Lending Club.

Three aims for Abu Dhabi

Although the roadmap is yet to be published, Mr. Al Sayegh has at least spelled out the three key aims of the new FINTECH strategy.

He wants:

  • To develop innovative services and products with the aim of making markets more effi­cient.
  • To enhance and exploit growth opportunities in the Abu Dhabi financial system.
  • To anchor FINTECH in local banks and institutions to capitalize on their strengths and minimize risks.

Since he spoke, the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) – a division of the Abu Dhabi Global Market – has released plans for a flexible regulatory framework to promote the right atmosphere for growth, with blockchain a particular focus.

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