PwC's Experience Centre hosts region's top FinTech start-ups

03 March 2021 3 min. read

A cohort of eleven start-ups has graduated from a FinTech bootcamp, with the grand finale hosted at PwC’s Dubai based Experience Centre.

The convergence of financial services and technology industries has created an age of uncertainty like never seen before, with innovations such as peer-to-peer payment technology and blockchain consistently disrupting infrastructure, operations and business models. In response to this, 29% of banking industry respondents recently told PwC that “research, development and innovation” were key investment priorities, while many more institutions are already launching initiatives or dedicated labs to drive innovation.

However, in a market changing at such extraordinary speed, one off initiatives and siloed projects aren’t enough. Big Four professional services giant PwC advises FinTechs both across the MENA region, and globally, in order to help them achieve their true potential. Most recently, this has seen the advisory and auditing giant play host to Startupbootcamp FinTech Dubai at its Experience Centre in the city.

Leaders of the participating start-ups

Startupbootcamp FinTech Dubai was launched in 2018 in partnership with Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), Visa, Mashreq Bank and HSBC, and has so far graduated more than 30 FinTech start-ups in the fields of payments, lending and Islamic digital banking across three cohorts.

The third cycle of Startupbootcamp FinTech Dubai’s industry focused accelerator programme consisted of an intensive three-month growth course to support the business growth of the participating start-ups and prepare them for operations and future scaling.

During the Demo Day, the programme’s 11 graduating start-ups pitched ideas to investors, corporate partners, mentors, experts and general audience. The Demo Day was exclusively live-streamed from PwC’s Experience Centre, with an opening note from Lars Buch, CEO of Rainmaking in MENA & Russia, providing inspiration and anecdotes from his tenure at one of the world’s most active industry-focused startup accelerators.

This was followed by a keynote from Moussa Beidas, Director of Ideation at PwC Dubai who shared important advice with the founders of the participating firms. As our Demo Day sponsors, PwC Middle East also contributed FinTech industry knowledge throughout.

Ali Hosseini, Chief Digital Officer at PwC Middle East, said, “Our Experience Centre encourages innovation and is inspired by start-ups’ co-working spaces, the centre keeps collaboration and co-creation at its heart. We built the space around our client's needs and experience, meant to disrupt traditional workspaces and to promote creativity to solve our clients most important problems.”

Three-month programme

Over the course of the three-month programme, the 11 start-ups have benefitted from mentorship and access to comprehensive resources, insights, technology and world-leading expertise during the three months of the programme, enabling them to secure proof-of-concepts to validate their business models. With the start-ups predominantly at seed stage, raising between $250,000 and $1.8 million and the programme’s strong focus on developing partnerships between start-ups and corporates and building investor relationships, the Demo Day provided a solid springboard for start-ups to commence 2021.

The 11 start-ups included RegTech firm Compliance as a Service and securitised trading platform Absolute Collateral from the UK; as well as non-insurance businesses enabler Technologies, financial wellness app Finllect, and digital legacy planning tool Stonest from the UAE. US origin digital toolkit firm Flaist and investment platform Raseed were meanwhile joined by Jordanian online trading application Tajiir, and Singaporean regulated private debt investment platform Kilde. The cohort was rounded off with Hong Kong based core banking system Open CBS, and Malaysia investment management app Singular Capital.

Ranging from financial wellness app for Gen Zs to an Insurance-as-a-Service platform which allows to purchase insurance in less than eight seconds, the startups have the ability and ambition to make the financial services sector in MENA smarter, more innovative and agile.