For fintech companies looking to disrupt global markets and address financial demands, access to top talent is essential. Disruptive start-ups need the best talent, and Dubai represents huge opportunity for international fintech businesses, offering both talent and a large potential customer base.

The World Bank estimates that 85 million people in the Middle East remain unbanked and underserved by traditional banking. At the same time, the region is home to young, dynamic and technologically savvy populations that are ready to adopt innovative fintech solutions.

Talent: the greatest asset

Cassbana is an Egyptian fintech start-up operating from Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) that uses AI and machine learning to bring financial inclusion to communities across growing markets in the Middle East and Africa. “We are trying to create financial identities for underserved communities by building an alternative to traditional collateral scoring mechanisms using data science,” explains Haitham Nassar, Cassbana’s founder and CEO.

Like most innovative companies, Cassbana relies on the calibre of its hiring to develop its innovative technology.

“Our greatest assets are our engineers and data scientists,” says Nassar. “We want to hire the best of the best around the globe. That is why we came to Dubai – talented people are increasingly seeing Dubai as a place to come and grow their careers, and we get to tap into that pool of industry talent.”

Cassbana operates from the DIFC Innovation Hub in the centre of Dubai. DIFC’s state-of-the-art infrastructure and increasing lifestyle opportunities attract talent from around the world.

According to global consultancy Mercer, Dubai offers the best quality of life in the Middle East, thanks to factors including year-round sunshine, a modern lifestyle and an ideal economic environment, plus high standards of housing and education. Dubai also ranks as one of the Middle East’s safest cities to live in, according to the Safe Cities Index, making it an attractive location for top talent and their families from around the world.

The UAE is home to six of the world’s top universities, according to the QS World University Rankings, and seven more universities that appear in the QS Arab Region University Rankings. DIFC’s recent annual review shows that it is home to a workforce of 29,702, including top technology and innovation talent.

Innovative companies like Cassbana can gain access to this rich pool of international talent within an environment that makes it easy to attract the right professionals. “We have been able to scale our tech team quickly with high-calibre people, simply by being based in DIFC,” says Nassar.

Dubai – built for business

DIFC offers a supportive environment designed to help start-ups and scale-ups hit the ground running. Businesses benefit from a full suite of services in one ecosystem. “There is very strong infrastructure here,” says Nassar. “For us as a company, we found the ecosystem very systematic and very organised. It is the perfect place to build a company.”

The leading global financial centre in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia region, DIFC is a gateway to opportunities for businesses. It provides convenient administrative processes, offering subsidised licences and visa costs, office space and streamlined regulatory processes. “It took us less than a month to have everything settled,” says Nassar. “DIFC introduced us to banks and helped with issuing licences and getting medical insurance.” The centre’s relationship management capabilities support businesses through these processes.

DIFC’s regional expertise is a valuable resource that helps businesses understand market dynamics and access opportunities. Its legislative and regulatory regime is established and tested, providing a highly supportive and secure environment for local, regional and global stakeholders alike.

A thriving ecosystem

Once in DIFC, companies become part of a vibrant community centred around innovation and technological advancement. The centre’s pool of skilled, like-minded peers has helped accelerate Cassbana’s development.

Nassar explains: “In DIFC, there are regular events to help the company be exposed to investment opportunities and advanced technologies. There have been events for AI and data science, which are very relevant to us, as well as events about how to attract investors and opportunities to meet a network of investors from the region.”

Once such event is DIFC’s recent Talent Week, which offered tech companies the chance to meet talent and inspired job seekers to become the change-makers of tomorrow. The event, held at the Innovation Hub, hosted around 4,000 people, including those looking to recruit talent and others seeking to advance their careers. Attendees were encouraged to look beyond traditional roles in large enterprises and consider exciting roles in high-growth, disruptive tech businesses.

DIFC’s Innovation Hub brings diverse stakeholders, from venture capitalists, financial institutions and angel investors to like-minded entrepreneurs, into physical proximity, creating a melting pot of ideas and connections.

“Every start-up has two key needs,” says Nassar. “The first is talent, the second is investment. By being in Dubai, you can access both.”

The next step for Cassbana is expansion into even more cities across the Middle East and Africa. The company believes that DIFC will serve as a launch pad for accessing new emerging markets and realising its vision of bringing financial empowerment to underserved populations.

To learn more about start-up and scale-up opportunities in DIFC, click here.