9 October 2019 — The DFSA invites applications for its 2020 Regulatory Sandbox 'Winter Cohort'

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Dubai, UAE, 9 October 2019: The Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) invites applications from local and international firms to apply to join the Winter 2020 Cohort. Successful cohort applicants will be invited to apply to enter the DFSA Regulatory Sandbox, known as the Innovation Testing Licence (ITL) Programme.

The DFSA welcomes innovative technology-driven firms to apply through its website ( between 1 and 30 November 2019. Firms must provide a clear explanation of their planned business model and the proposed innovative product or service. Firms accepted into the Winter Cohort will be announced on 16 December, after which they are required to submit an ITL application by 17 January 2020.

Since the inception of the ITL Programme in 2017, the DFSA has accepted 20 companies into the cohort process, representing diverse business models from across the world. Such diverse business models have included digital Sukuk issuances using smart contracts, tokenised securities and debt offerings, tokenised crowdfunding, and the use of AI in credit analysis. The programme enables firms to test innovative solutions in and from the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC). It provides firms with temporary flexibility to test and develop concepts within the test environment without being subject to the full suite of regulatory requirements that normally apply to regulated firms.

Bryan Stirewalt, Chief Executive of the DFSA, said: "The ITL Programme continues to provide the right balance between supporting financial innovation and maintaining the safety of the financial system and of the users of financial services. The ITL serves as a platform to safely test innovative financial technologies that have the potential to emerge as successful ventures and contribute to the financial services sector in Dubai and the UAE. The continued growth in the popularity of the programme is a testament to its success."

Further details regarding the ITL and cohort applications are provided in the FinTech section of the DFSA's website. Firms are encouraged to apply as soon as possible in November.

For more information about the cohort application process or the ITL programme, kindly email:

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For further information please contact:
Corporate Communications
Dubai Financial Services Authority
Level 13, The Gate, West Wing
Dubai, UAE
Tel: +971 (0)4 362 1613

Editor's notes:

The Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) is the independent regulator of financial services conducted in and from the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), a purpose-built financial free-zone in Dubai. The DFSA's regulatory mandate covers asset management, banking and credit services, securities, collective investment funds, custody and trust services, commodities futures trading, Islamic finance, insurance, an international equities exchange and an international commodities derivatives exchange. In addition to regulating financial and ancillary services, the DFSA is responsible for administering Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (CFT) legislation that applies in the DIFC. Please refer to the DFSA's website for more information.

Bryan Stirewalt was appointed Chief Executive of the DFSA on 1 October, 2018, after nearly 8 years as the DFSA's Managing Director of the Supervision Division. In his role as Chief Executive, Bryan will take the lead in steering the work of the DFSA and further developing its capability as a robust regulator delivering world-class financial regulation in the DIFC. Bryan has played a vital part in executing the DFSA's regulatory mandate and developing its risk-based supervision framework. Bryan plays an active role in supporting the work of international standard-setting bodies. He now serves as the Co-Chair of the Basel Consultative Group (BCG), which provides a forum for deepening the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision's engagement with non-member, global supervisors on banking supervisory issues. Through this role, Bryan also serves as an Observer at the Basel Committee on Bank

The DFSA launched its Innovation Testing Licence programme, as part of its broader Innovation strategy, in May 2017. The DFSA improved the programme in 2018 by introducing the cohort approach. Currently, two cohorts of applicants are welcomed each year, with the DFSA setting out a clear timetable for applications and approvals, providing innovative firms with greater certainty about speed to market.