European Islamic fintech start-ups find home in the UAE as ADGM expands RegLab program

Two European fintech start-ups with a Shariah proposition have been selected to join the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM)’s Regulatory Laboratory (RegLab) which concurrently graduated another start-up which has Shariah finance at its core.

RegLab new cohort
Jibrel Network from Switzerland and Luxembourg’s Ekofolio have joined the fourth ADGM RegLab cohort, which also welcomed local companies DAPI and PointCheckout. In its third year, the ADGM RegLab has already admitted 32 fintech firms with market-ready solutions out of 83 applications from 20 countries. But what stands out from this cohort, is that half the cohort has a distinctive Shariah proposition, underscoring the growing attraction of Abu Dhabi, which has always been pitted against Dubai, as an Islamic fintech market.

What is interesting is that both the participants are pushing Sukuk tokenization. Ekofolio, which focuses on mobilizing impact investments into forestry assets, intends to tokenize green Sukuk backed by forestland. The idea is to make forest investments, which currently commands about US$100 billion in institutional investments, tradeable and liquid, and of course, available to Shariah-conscious investors.

Jibrel, on the other hand, is a blockchain company focusing on digitizing traditional financial assets. The company was the one behind Al Hilal Bank’s first Smart Sukuk in 2018. It is currently developing an investment match-making platform looking to digitize start-up equity to promote greater liquidity, transparency and reach.

RegLab graduate
As one of the first to join the sandbox in 2017, NOW Money – a mobile banking and remittance app – has completed the program and developed a client onboarding solution to be integrated into their mobile technology to serve low-income migrant workers in the UAE.

“We have incorporated innovations developed in the RegLab into our core NOW Money offering, which has made the customer sign-up process the slickest in the UAE whilst fully operating within regulatory frameworks of the Central Bank of the UAE. With current expansion across the GCC region and an exciting product roadmap, NOW Money has an exciting future, and are looking forward to further opportunities to work with ADGM,” Co-Founder Ian Dillon shared. Dillon previously told IFN Fintech that it was important that the core business of the company be Shariah compliant, hence the decision to partner with a UAE Islamic bank through which all the payments will be made to other financial participants in the ecosystem such as exchange houses.


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