TechPreneur Africa and Abu Dhabi sign fintech start-up support agreement

Neil Ainger, fintech correspondent at
Tim de Waele | Contributor

TechPreneur Africa, an organization dedicated to supporting financial technology (fintech) firms and entrepreneurs that want to increase financial inclusion and opportunities for growth across Africa, has signed a memorandum of agreement (MoU) with Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), an international financial center located in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) capital that also supports fintechs.

The agreement means that African innovators and fintech start-ups can now apply to ADGM's regulatory laboratory (RegLab) sandbox.

This exists to provide regulatory assistance and advice to support new technology-based developments in financial services in the UAE and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region via partnerships with local neighbors.

Equally, Middle Eastern firms can contact TechPreneur Africa to see what support is available for their expansion plans into the continent thanks to the MoU. The intention is to foster and support the growth and activities of fintechs in the respective Middle East and African (MEA) regions.

ADGM RegLab participants are given an exemption from the normal banking regulations for a test period of up to two years so that they can develop innovative fintech products, services or business models in a safe environment, where appropriate consumer protection advice can be given. Full regulation is reapplied after the test period ends. Entrepreneurial mentorship is also included as part of the support program that includes investors, marketing professionals and technologists, among other experts.

The second batch of entrants to ADGM's 2017 RegLab are applying now ahead of the 31 July deadline for the second cohort. It is hoped some African fintech firms may participate.

Techpreneur Africa was launched in 2015 and has an ambition to encourage a 30% uptick in financial inclusion by 2020, with new mobile and other technology-based products opening up bank accounts, card payment, loan and other financial services products to those that have previously lacked access to such facilities.

Commenting on the cooperation deal in a statement, Richard Teng, CEO of ADGM, said: "The Middle East and Africa (MEA) region has tremendous demand and growth opportunities for financial services. We hope that through closer collaboration with like-minded fintech hubs, we are able to leverage the strengths and expertise of our markets to more efficiently address the needs of the industry and support economic growth and development."

"This new partnership will open up new avenues and create opportunities for fintech firms in the Middle East and Africa looking to expand into each other's markets," he concluded.

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