FinTech at the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC)

FinTech DIFC Dubai

FinTech at the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC)

Dubai is ranked as the seventh-best FinTech hub, and Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) is the heart of that success. It is perfectly positioned to drive growth and serve as a stage to access new opportunities.

DIFC is home to an internationally renowned, independent regulator and judicial system with an English common law framework and the region’s largest financial network of more than thirty thousand professionals working across over five thousand businesses.

DIFC FinTech Hive

Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) FinTech Hive is the first and biggest financial technology accelerator in the MENA region. Amongst start-ups, it is the place to be if you are in the FinTech or Islamic FinTech sector looking to take advantage of a plethora of opportunities and get what you have to offer in front of the region’s most reputable financial service organizations.

If you want to develop your start-up, Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) has everything you need, including a community of similar-minded people and a progressive regulatory framework.

Here is a quick summary of what’s on offer:

  • An investor network that includes DIFC’S USD 100M FinTech Fund
  • Co-working space in DIFC, one of the premier business destinations in the city
  • One of the best-developed accelerator programs in the region
  • Online and in-person workshops for member organizations
  • Networking opportunities and the chance to meet up with some of the top firms in the legal, insurance, and financial sector
  • Progressive regulation by the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA), including a regulatory sandbox scheme under the Innovation Testing License
  • Network of alliances with top international accelerators and organizations

Innovation Testing License

The Innovation Testing License (ITL) is a special business license that allows FinTech companies to create and test innovative financial services technology and ideas without being subject to the general regulatory requirements that would apply to firms conducting financial services within DIFC.

The eligibility to get an ITL license is the following:

  • The business model, product, or service uses emerging or existing technology in an innovative way within the financial technology space
  • The planned business activity must involve a financial service within the scope of DFSA.
  • Entrepreneurs must provide a regulatory test plan that sets out the objectives and parameters for testing, and key milestones for testing
  • The business must be able to demonstrate how it intends to roll out its business at the end of the test period

Upon submission of the application form, the free zone authorities will review the application and inquire about any gaps in the testing plan or any other deficiencies they discover.

The applicable fees for an ITL will depend on the nature of business activities. In some instances, the DFSA may consider reducing or waiving the relevant fees for the testing period. However, once the DIFC FinTech business has completed testing, it must pay the standard fees applicable to all DIFC businesses.

Commercial Licensing

Whether you are transitioning from an ITL or moving your FinTech license from another jurisdiction, the process of getting a business license for a regulated business from the DFSA is simple. The first step is to complete various forms and documents available on the DIFC website. Then, if all the documents are in order, an “In-Principal Approval” is issued.

Following the issuance of the initial approval, the applicant will need to complete the following:

  • Incorporation of the entity with the DIFC Registrar of Companies
  • Opening a UAE bank account and providing the DFSA with proof of remittance of capital
  • The lease agreement of a premise within the DIFC from which the new company will conduct its financial activities

Once the conditions are fulfilled, the DFSA grants a license. The requirements for application processes may vary according to the type of regulated entity.

Want to know more about getting a DIFC FinTech license?

If you wish to receive more information about a DIFC FinTech license, please speak to one of our skilled business setup consultants for a free consultation.

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