Dubai – MENA Herald: A delegation from Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) participated in the UAE-Luxembourg Council for Cooperation and Development of Islamic Banking and Finance.

Aiming to strengthen DIFC’s long-standing partnership with Luxembourg, the visit included engagements with industry experts to share insights on the sophistication and future of Islamic finance and the impact of FinTech.

FinTech has grown exponentially since 2011. In 2015, the FinTech industry saw a US$16.5 billion of funding with a 22.2% year on year funding growth. Some 26% of GCC Islamic banking customers use mobile banking services and 81% said they would switch banks for a better digital experience, according EY GCC Digital Banking Report 2015. Industry sources believe that FinTech solutions can close the service gap between conventional and Islamic banking and accelerate growth for smaller Islamic banks and new Islamic entrants to the market.

As a part of DIFC’s participation in UAE-Luxembourg Council for Cooperation and Development of Islamic Banking and Finance, Ali Hassan, Senior Vice President of Business Development for London and Europe at DIFC spoke in a panel discussion on FinTech and Islamic Finance.

Hassan also highlighted DIFC’s successful collaboration with Luxembourg for Finance to exchange best finance practices as well encourage the development of industry standards.

Building on the long-standing collaboration on Islamic banking and finance between the UAE and Luxembourg, the visit explored innovations and solutions that would help financial markets in the two countries maintain and grow their respective financial centres. Industry leaders from the UAE and Luxembourg also discussed opportunities for mutual recognition funds, firms and vehicles particularly in the wealth management and Islamic finance sectors.

Arif Amiri, Chief Executive Officer of DIFC, said: “By strengthening our collaboration with Luxembourg and encouraging an exchange of expertise, DIFC will continue to facilitate opportunities for our partner jurisdictions in Luxembourg and other parts of Europe.”

As DIFC’s partnership with Luxembourg dates back to 2010, when the Centre signed an MOU with Luxembourg for Finance, recognising its leading role in European financial serves. This partnership has encouraged the exchange of best financial practices and the development of industry standards and new products while facilitating market access, training and industry development to firms located in the two jurisdictions.

Arif Amiri added: “Consolidating synergies between the two countries, DIFC will continue to support an exchange of business opportunities for Dubai and Luxembourg in both conventional and Islamic finance.”

A number of financial services entities currently operate in DIFC including, Banque Internationale a Luxembourg, the oldest private bank in the Grand Duchy, Arendt & Medernach and Loyens & Leoff, two of Luxembourg’s biggest law firms. Dubai has made the development of its Islamic economy a key priority. In line with this objective, DIFC plays an important role in collaborating with international partners to stimulate the emirate’s Islamic economy.

Global Financial services is experiencing significant change and DIFC’s regulatory and business infrastructure provides an enabling ecosystem and platform for technology disruptors to enter the wider region and support FinTech and Sharia’a compliant growth. Currently, DIFC has more than 40 firms focused on Islamic finance and is home to Nasdaq Dubai, one of the world’s largest single exchanges for Sukuk listings.

Several law and banking firms have established their key Islamic finance teams in the Centre and are innovating. Similarly, DIFC clients, including JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs are already major investors in FinTech. DIFC is also a member of the Global Blockchain Council, recently launched by Dubai Museum of the Future Foundation, along with Microsoft, IBM, DMCC, Dubai Smart Government among others.

“DIFC has emerged an enabling platform for Islamic finance and FinTech. We continue to innovate across all financial sectors, including asset management, investment banking and insurance with the launch of our Qualified Investor Fund that provides faster time to markets and the netting law that facilitates counterparty risk management. With new innovations and support services, we have attracted numerous FinTech firms seeking to establish a presence in DIFC, including current and upcoming licenses,” said Amiri.