New banking and licensing solutions tailored to the needs of startups, an uptick in the number of fintech startups specialising in SME banking and increased cooperation between UAE banks and the country’s startup ecosystem are among the key achievements outlined by the Dubai Chamber-led working group on SME banking.

The working group, in cooperation with Smart Dubai, Dubai Technology Entrepreneur Campus (Dtec) and a leading UAE bank, has developed a new one-stop shop solution powered by blockchain technology which enables startups and SMEs to apply for a business license and open a bank account.

Following the establishment of the working group and the release of a whitepaper on SME banking challenges published by Dubai Chamber in September 2018, two of its members – RAK Bank and Mashreq Bank -  have begun offering new digital solutions and additional services designed specifically for startups. Meanwhile, an uptick has been observed in the number of fintech startups in Dubai addressing SME banking challenges, signalling stronger awareness about such matters.

Collaboration between UAE banks and the country’s startup ecosystem has increased considerably over the last nine months. For example, Noor Bank assisted 20 startups from Dubai Technology Entrepreneur Campus (Dtec) in opening bank accounts during the same period, marking a year-over-year increase of 35%. Enhanced communication about application documentation on the part of the bank reduced processing time and simplified the customer experience by providing startup customers with transparency and clarity up front.

In addition, the working group noted an increase in the number of partnerships and between UAE banks, incubators and accelerators which is seen as a positive sign that industry stakeholders are stepping up their efforts to meet the evolving demands of tech startups in the country and develop practical and tangible solutions that can benefit this community. 

H.E. Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansoori, UAE Minister of Economy said: “The Ministry of Economy works very closely with Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry and all strategic partners in UAE to enhance the competitiveness of the SME, entrepreneurship and startups sector for the UAE nationals and foreign investors in order to achieve the economic strategy and UAE Vision 2021.”

H.E. Hamad Buamim, President & CEO of Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, lauded the achievements of the working group and noted that Dubai Chamber continues to examine key challenges faced by startups in Dubai through research and analysis which yields valuable market insights, paving the way for the implementation of new solutions that create value for businesses in the emirate.

“The proactive and collaborative approach taken by the working group in addressing existing challenges faced by SMEs is the result of close cooperation between public and private sector players. Dubai Chamber plays an active role in fostering such collaboration with the aim of improving ease of doing business and enhancing the competitiveness of SMEs in Dubai,” said H.E. Buamim.

Her Excellency Dr Aisha Bint Butti Bin Bishr, Director General of Smart Dubai, said: “Smart Dubai is committed to joining all efforts to empower startups in the UAE. SMEs lead the way in terms of creativity and we consider them to be an essential partner for us on our mission to spearhead Dubai’s transformation into a full-fledged smart city of the future – a mission that makes it indispensable for us to promote innovation and embrace emerging technologies as a means to transform services across the city.”

“Smart Dubai is open to collaborating with government and private entities across the emirate to transform Dubai into the smartest and happiest city in the world, as directed by our wise leadership,” H.E. Dr Aisha added. “We are delighted to be working together with the Dubai Chamber to engage the SME sector in Dubai’s future plans.” 

The working group on SME banking group was among the key recommendations outlined by a recent study conducted by Dubai Chamber in coordination with the UAE Ministry of Economy and the UAE’s Council of SMEs and global consultancy firm Roland Berger which featured insights on various issues impacting SMEs in the UAE, including access to finance and banking services, regulatory requirements, and the need for digital solutions.

Source: Dubai Chamber

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