Financial technology companies in the Dubai International Financial Centre have raised a combined $3.3 billion in venture funding, with growth in line with the onshore financial hub’s goal of doubling its contribution to the emirate’s economy, the DIFC governor has said.

FinTech was the fastest-growing sector for the DIFC last year, with Dubai’s location allowing FinTech companies an “unparalleled access” to a market of more than three billion people with an aggregate GDP exceeding $12 trillion, Essa Kazim said on Monday at the Dubai FinTech Summit.

“We saw unprecedented growth in 2023 with FinTech and innovation as the fastest growing sector with 902 registered companies, a 31 per cent increase from the previous year,” Mr Kazim said.

The total number has since grown to more than 1,000 companies in the DIFC, one of the top financial centres in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia region.

“This accelerated growth trajectory is perfectly aligned with the goals of the Dubai Economic Agenda D33,” he said.

Launched in January, D33 aims to double the size of Dubai’s economy, with a target of reaching Dh32 trillion by 2033.

The economic agenda also aims to make Dubai a global digital economy leader, the fastest growing and most attractive global business centre, a hub for sustainability and economic diversification, as well as an incubator for talented citizens and unicorns.

The DIFC has been expanding five times faster than the emirate’s average GDP growth over the past 10 years, contributing about 6 per cent to its GDP until the past year.

It aims to double its contribution to Dubai’s economy by 2030 and is banking on sectors including wealth and asset management as well as FinTech to help it achieve its end-of-the-decade goals.

Last year, 316 FinTech companies established a presence at DIFC, while its count for wealth and asset management companies grew to 350, pushing the number of total active companies to 5,523 that employ more than 41,500 people.

Dubai in recent years has undergone a surge in FinTech investment, with total FinTech funding reaching $2.3 billion in 2023 alone, according to Magnitt data.

Global investment in FinTech companies also surged past $100 billion mark in 2023, a 50 per cent annual increase, which underpins the “robust investor appetite for FinTech innovations”, Mr Kazim said, citing data from CB Insights.

The rapid growth of FinTech is also pushing wealth managers as well as global exchange operators to evolve their own technology products and offerings to stay relevant amid increasing competition from FinTech companies across the board.

“If we look at the growth trajectory of our business, already we generate more revenue on the elements of our business outside of our exchanges … than we do in our exchange business,” said Adena Friedman, chief executive of Nasdaq.

“We are likely to be more of a FinTech provider over the next 10 years than an exchange operator, although both roles are equally critical to our strategy.”

Having the exchange businesses creates the foundation and allows Nasdaq to grow and expand and “everything we do is all interconnected”, she added.

For asset managers, it is also important to evolve along with how their clients consume information and make investments in a rapidly changing technological landscape.

“Our clients have been changing over decades and over the years and they will continue to change, and Julius Baer has to continue to be part of that change. In terms of our clients what we see these days [changing] is obviously information,” said Nic Dreckmann, chief executive of Swiss private bank Julius Baer.

“I think we always need to look to expand, we need to look at what is our value proposition.”