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Digital Banking
Fast, secure and accessible banking services

Digital banks play a pivotal role in advancing the innovation and financial agenda of Abu Dhabi and of the UAE, particularly in relation to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and corporate sectors, and in areas such as trade finance, SME lending and transactional accounts among others. Digital banking also enables and promotes financial inclusion accessing untapped, unbanked and underserved clients across markets.

ADGM’s Digital Banking Framework focuses on conventional banks seeking to establish digital banks, or branches of digital banks, as well as for firms with innovative value propositions. ADGM also invites applications from partnerships between technology companies and financial institutions looking to be issued a digital bank licence.

The services offered by digital banks are wide ranging and seek to provide novel customer and transactional solutions. A few examples of these services include:

  • Trade finance: operating a digital trade finance bank from ADGM, utilising 21st-century technology to revolutionise how trade finance operates, reducing costs and risks in a well-regulated ecosystem
  • SME lending: digital banks focusing on lending to small and medium-sized businesses. Advances in AI, data management and analytics enable more risk-sensitive and timely credit decisions at a lower cost
  • Digital transactional banking: digital transactional banking will allow payments and treasury services to flow more smoothly, enabling real-time payments at significantly lower execution costs

To ensure high quality applicants meet prudential requirements and to safeguard systemic stability, ADGM’s Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) requires a base capital requirement of US$10 million, robust governance structures, compliance and risk management policies, IT security measures, and certain mandatory senior management appointments.

Depending on the type of innovative solutions to be provided, all applicants will be assessed appropriately for a digital banking licence. Entities looking to deploy innovative solutions in the payment space, such as e-wallets, tokens, and stored value card, can consider other forms of licences that attract a lower regulatory and capital burden than a full digital banking licence.

Financial services entities are required to meet specific resource requirements, either designated as Controlled Functions, which require approval by the FSRA, or as Recognised Functions, which are appointed by the entity itself and notified to the FSRA. For more information refer to Chapters 5.3 and 5.4 in the ADGM General Rulebook (GEN).

Entities that are either required or that want to have a physical presence, will find a wide range of Grade A office space on Al Maryah Island to choose from. The ADGM team will advise regarding office requirements on a case by case basis.

Digital Banking is one of five Banking focused areas at ADGM. The other areas include Corporate Transaction Banking, Private Banking and Wealth Management, Investment Banking and Money Service Business.

Why Abu Dhabi for Digital Banking

Business friendly

The ease of doing business in Abu Dhabi and within ADGM is invaluable, with numerous digital platforms, an environment that supports good business, and a concierge service for all Abu Dhabi government services.

Large foreign workforce

The region has one of the highest populations of expatriates and foreign workers from wider MENAT, South Asia and African continent who have a strong and growing need for remittance, payments and other money services between UAE and their home countries.

Strategically located

Conveniently positioned globally at the crossroads of major trading routes, Abu Dhabi is in close proximity, mostly within a three-hour flight, to the two large wealth markets in the wider Middle East and Indian Subcontinent.

Strong diversifying economy

Abu Dhabi is a regional hub with a strong public and private sector in an economy which is increasingly diversifying across sectors, leading to greater, locally provided Corporate Transaction Banking services.

Unparalleled infrastructure

With world-class infrastructure and significant investments in green sustainable energy, Abu Dhabi has extensive professional services offerings such as medical, consultancy, legal, architectural and housing.

Safe and stable

Ranked one of the safest cities in the world, Abu Dhabi offers world-class infrastructure including housing, schools, sporting facilities, cultural institutions and events with convenient international transportation links globally.

Why set up your digital bank in ADGM
Product friendly
ADGM prides itself on being a product friendly jurisdiction recognising that Investment Banks require new and innovative solutions for ever-evolving client advisory and market making needs.
Risk-based regulator
ADGM is a business-friendly and risk-based regulator which welcomes engagement and helps support ideas for growing your business.
FinTech
ADGM is rated as one of the world's leading FinTech jurisdictions with a flourishing ecosystem and with the world's second most active FinTech regulatory sandbox.
Rule of law
A strong rule of law through the direct application of English common law, strong judiciary, speed of judgment facilitated by world's first e-Courts, seat of arbitration, and a strong system of enforceability of judgments.
Full ecosystem
ADGM offers a full ecosystem of legal, accounting and servicing firms and enables the optimisation of businesses.
Other banking solutions
Corporate and Transaction Banking

ADGM has become a hub for Transaction Banks that provide corporate treasuries, governments and institutions with day to day operational and working capital financing needs. These include corporate banking, lending, trade finance, cash management and services supporting corporate treasuries.

Private Banking and Wealth Management

ADGM provides a perfect location for Private Banking and Wealth Management firms which focus on the needs of High Net-Worth (HNW) individuals and families who demand bespoke financial services with a high degree of customised advice & personal relationship management. This includes banking services, management of assets, financial services such as insurance, estate management and tax planning with concierge services.

Investment Banking

ADGM is home to Investment Banks that provide advisory and execution services to individuals, family offices, corporates and governments. Our services include raising capital by acting as an underwriter or as an agent to issue securities (either publicly or in private placement); advice on mergers & acquisitions and market making across all asset classes.

Money Service Business

Money Service Businesses or payment services from ADGM provide clients with the ability to convert currency or transmit money to individuals and corporates across the world. This can include, but is not limited to, foreign exchange services, payment services or intermediary payment services via traditional payment methods, via the internet and mobile technology, and by using innovative FinTech solutions.

ADGM has become a hub for Transaction Banks that provide corporate treasuries, governments and institutions with day to day operational and working capital financing needs. These include corporate banking, lending, trade finance, cash management and services supporting corporate treasuries.

If you have questions or need any assistance, we're here to help.
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