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Dubai bank enters metaverse to support $4bn tech push

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Dubai's biggest lender Emirates NBD is banking on the metaverse

Emirates NBD, Dubai’s biggest bank, today announced its first play in the metaverse as part of the emirate’s ambition to become one of the world’s top 10 virtual economies. 

Its global accelerator programme, in partnership with the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Fintech Hive and powered by Microsoft, is for metaverse startups and aims to enhance customer experience for the new virtual economy.

NBD hopes it will position the bank as a leader in the next phase of innovation and follows the launch of the Dubai Metaverse Strategy which plans to support more than 40,000 virtual jobs by 2030 and add $4 billion to its economy in five years.

The UAE has made a number of significant strides to integrate the metaverse and its related technologies, including cryptocurrencies, into the economy.

In May Dubai’s Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (Vara) — which was established under the Dubai Virtual Asset Regulation Law, the first such law in the emirate — said it had established its Metaverse HQ, making it the first regulator to have a presence there.

With 94 percent of all financial transactions and requests conducted outside the branches, the bank is exploring new technologies in the Web3 world to expand its digital footprint and create immersive experiences for our customers. 

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The Dubai Metaverse Strategy plans to support more than 40,000 virtual jobs by 2030 and add $4bn to its economy

Emirates NBD said it is scouting for leading FinTechs, digital experience startups and emerging technology players operating across the metaverse landscape to enhance its immersion in the virtual world across three key areas including enabling a decentralised payment infrastructure for customers to create, monetise, buy and sell digital assets and services. 

Over a 10-week acceleration programme, the DIFC Fintech Hive will evaluate and match Emirates NBD with leading startups, culminating in a demo day where shortlisted participants will pitch their solutions.

“Attracting innovative startups is crucial to Dubai’s ambition to be an international leader in the metaverse,” Marwan Hadi, executive vice president and head of retail banking at Emirates NBD, said.

“With our entry into the metaverse, we seek to reimagine financial services using extended reality and create compelling new propositions for our customers in the new metaverse economy.”

Miguel Rio Tinto, group chief information officer at Emirates NBD, added: “With the support of the DIFC FinTech Hive and Microsoft, Emirates NBD is looking forward to becoming a launchpad of innovative financial services in the metaverse, playing an active role in co-creating new experiences for our customers with innovative start-ups from around the world.”

Raja Al Mazrouei, executive vice president of DIFC FinTech Hive, said: “This step reaffirms our commitment to support Dubai’s ambition to be among the top ten metaverse economies in the world.

At DIFC FinTech Hive, we continue to adopt latest technologies to keep pace with the rising momentum in the global digital space.”