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DIFC sets up Open Finance Lab

Reaffirms its position as a top global fintech hub


The Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC), the leading global financial center in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia (MEASA) region, has launched the region’s first Open Finance Lab, heralding a new era of finance in the region.

The Open Finance Lab initiative is a six-month program that will commence on 28 June 2022. Four banks and a fintech company are scheduled to participate in the program, including Commercial Bank of Dubai, First Abu Dhabi Bank, Mashreq Bank, National Bank of Ras Al Khaimah, and Zand. Use cases will be explored and developed from July to November 2022, and the lab will conclude with a demonstration to government officials and bank executives of the impact achieved.

The launch of the region’s first Open Finance Lab follows the recent signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Central Bank of the UAE (CBUAE) and DIFC Authority to promote the development and growth of the UAE financial technology sector. The initiative supports DIFC’s ongoing efforts to realize the objectives of its 2030 strategy by unlocking strategic opportunities for the UAE and reinforcing DIFC’s leading position as a global financial services hub.

With the overarching vision of the UAE to become a global benchmark in Open Finance, the lab will work in collaboration with banks, fintech, regulators, and the industry. It has the potential to unlock the next wave of growth for the sector and increase consumer protection, financial inclusion, social benefits, and economic opportunities.

The lab will run business and technical deep-dive workshops and facilitate industry and regulatory forums on important issues. These include API standards and consumer consent management and educational sessions to promote a greater understanding of how the Open Finance data will create more opportunities through the application of emerging technologies, resulting in new data-driven innovations and business models that will enhance the future of the financial system. The insights and learnings from the use cases and forums will contribute to the development of the sector and regulations.

Additionally, the DIFC Innovation Hub will host an Open Finance Week in September 2022, creating further opportunities for the industry to engage and share their expertise and respective learnings with each other.