This month The Fintech Times celebrates regtech and the advancements of the fintech ecosystem. Looking at the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region specifically, Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) presents an example of the growing importance of regtech but wider regulatory advancements in financial services as a whole. 

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, crowdfunding platforms, 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.

The following is an exclusive interview with DFSA’s Ken Coghill, Associate Director, Head of Operational and Technology Risk Supervision at the DFSA:

Ken oversees the DFSA’s operational risk, cyber risk, and innovation supervision programmes. This includes the operational risk and cyber risk supervision of all Authorised Firms, managing the Innovation Testing Licence programme (a.k.a. regulatory sandbox), and overseeing the supervision of innovative technology-enabled financial services providers such as crowdfunding platforms, digital asset providers, and Money Services providers.

Ken joined the DFSA in April 2012 and has led the supervision of brokerage and trading activities, supervised numerous banking institutions, and led the restructuring of the DFSA’s supervisory risk model. Prior to joining the DFSA, Ken managed a team of market conduct investigators at the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), prior to which Ken was an open-outcry and electronic equity options market maker on the trading floor of the CBOE.

Last year, The Fintech Times spoke with Bryan Stirewalt, the Chief Executive of the DFSA. An excerpt of that, titled The Insights of a Regulatory Authority, included, Over the course of the past several years, technology has been a significant and progressive disruptive force in all industries, but particularly in the financial services industry. This year, businesses around the world have undergone accelerated digital transformations, as a result of the pandemic. Prior years of technology investments by the financial services industry have paid off during this difficult period. Some of the key lessons the financial and business world have learned from this episode are the importance of agility and operational resilience.”

In reference to 2020, separately, Bryan commented on a piece called The Fintech Ecosystem of Dubai in 2020 by saying, “This year, businesses around the world have undergone accelerated digital transformations. Years of technology investments paid off during the pandemic period, particularly for the financial services industry. As regulators, we have had to make significant and necessary changes to ensure that we continue to be effective in meeting our regulatory objectives. We moved quickly to understand the impact of current events on financial institutions, adjusting certain regulatory requirements in order to enable financial institutions to utilise new technologies.”

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