The Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) announced recently that it has accepted 16 firms into its 2020 Summer Innovation Testing Licence (ITL) Cohort. The ITL Programme provides a unique environment that helps firms to test innovative solutions in and from the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC). The ITL provides these firms with temporary flexibility to test and develop concepts within a restricted regulatory environment. The 16 firms can now begin the process to apply for an ITL, with the first batch of licences expected to be issued in October. A total of 34 firms applied for the Summer Cohort, the largest applicant pool to date. This is a clear indication that the DIFC is strengthening its already strong position as the financial centre of choice for financial services innovation.
In April 2020, the DFSA announced it was accepting applications from international technology-driven companies. Firms were required to provide a clear explanation of their planned business model and their proposed innovative product or service. Of the 16 firms accepted into the upcoming Cohort, 13 propose to provide or arrange money services, which falls under the new regime the DFSA launched in April 2020. The types of business models accepted include payroll solution applications, payments and cross-border money transfer platforms, E-wallet providers and AI-supported wealth management platforms. Many of these business models are focused on facilitating financial inclusion and literacy by serving low-income migrant workers.
Bryan Stirewalt, Chief Executive of the DFSA remarked: “Since launching the ITL in 2017, we have seen interest in the Programme grow steadily each year. This year’s Summer Cohort received the largest number of applications and the largest number of accepted firms in the ITL’s history. The volume of money services applications received is a positive sign for the Centre and the diversification of its innovation ecosystem. I am particularly proud to see the number of firms focused on financial inclusion and financial literacy, both incredibly important areas of needed improvement around the globe. We look forward to seeing these firms progress through the ITL Programme.”
Since its 2017 launch, 82 companies have applied to the ITL Programme, of which 38 companies have been accepted into the Programme. Many of these companies started as participants in the DIFC FinTech Hive’s Scale-up and Accelerator programmes. To date, the Scale-up and Accelerator programmes have accepted 70 companies, and 140 start-up companies have utilised the Hive’s co-working space.