Student Innovation Challenge


Showcasing World-Class Emerging FinTech Talent

The FinTech Abu Dhabi Student Innovation Challenge in partnership with Abu Dhabi Global Market Academy will give a platform for the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) most exciting emerging talent to present their ideas to 5,000 influencers and innovators who are pioneering the new wave of innovation across financial services. For the first time, the FinTech Abu Dhabi Innovation Challenge looks to the emerging talent from across the UAE academic institutions to propose solutions to real challenges identified by regional corporates.

The Student Innovation Challenge poses a set of FinTech problem statements that represent the various challenges that financial institutions, corporates and consumers face in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the wider Middle East & North Africa (MENA) region. 

Students from within the UAE are invited to submit a proposal in response to the problem statement of their choice. Please note: Applications for the Student Innovation Challenge are open until 23rd September 2019. 


The Winner of the Student Innovation Challenge will receive:

Cash Prize of AED 10,000


Promotion through FinTech Abu Dhabi's digital channels


Discounts on ADGM Academy courses

FTAD - Academy Courses

Problem Statements

Problem statements are grouped under the following challenge areas. Click on each title to view the statements and see which one you would like to tackle.

Financial Inclusion

Financial Inclusion

1. The Problem: Bank account "light" for SMEs

SMEs are unable to open bank accounts quickly to get their business off the ground by allowing them to start receiving and making payments.

The Ask: Create a streamlined and efficient digital solution for banks to collect the required account-opening information from SMEs, to enable banks to quickly open "light" bank accounts for SMEs that provide SMEs with basic banking services sufficient for SMEs to get their businesses up and running. The solution should also enable the bank to collect further information from the SME in the interim to allow a full bank account to be opened for the SME.

2. The Problem: SME debt financing platform

SMEs often encounter difficulties obtaining financing (whether working capital, documentary or trade finance) and have to approach multiple funding sources which can be very time-consuming and costly for SMEs.

The Ask: Create a digital platform that allows SMEs to seek debt financing easily and quickly from lenders such as banks or corporate factors in a one-stop shop, without the need to individually reach out to multiple potential lenders separately.

3. The Problem: Advanced credit analytics

Banks are currently not taking advantage of the latest advances in technology with regard to data analytics for credit scoring. There is immense potential in being able to use these technologies to enhance efficiency in the credit scoring process.

The Ask: Create a digital solution which allows banks to process large quantities of diverse data to create more reliable credit scoring and credit profiles of borrowers, with the specific aim of increasing financing to corporates, in particular the SME sector.

4. The Problem: Financial services for un(der)banked migrant workers

Banking, remittance, investment and insurance services are often out of reach of low income migrant workers.  Having access to financial services will improve employee welfare and the lives of such migrant workers, while reducing risks associated with the informal sector (shadow banking).

The Ask: Develop a practical KYC-enabled digital / mobile solution to offer banking, investment, insurance and/or other financial services to low income migrant workers in a cost effective and a convenient way.

RegTech & SupTech

RegTech & SupTech

5. The Problem: Supervision of fiat currency backing stable coins

Many issuers of stablecoins claim to have a full 1:1 fiat currency backing them.  However, it is challenging to establish if this backing is indeed true.

The Ask: Create a digital solution to provide regulators and other relevant stakeholders real-time read-only visibility into the bank account(s) holding the fiat currency purported to be fully backing the stable coins in circulation.

6. The Problem: Supervision of client money held by non-bank market intermediaries

Currently, regulators will only be notified of irregularities or control failures by licensed firms in safeguarding Client Money post-event, usually through the firm proactively informing the regulator or the regulator's own review or inspection.   

The Ask: Create an automated solution that allows the regulator to monitor firms' management and safeguarding of client money. The solution should enable the licensed firms / Regulator to:

  • Automatically monitor the deposits and withdrawals of client money;
  • Automatically reconcile firms' client money balances in the bank account held at the custodian bank against firms' internal client money records at the individual client level;
  • Flag any issues in real time regarding any disparities or issues with regard to client money holdings by firms.
Banking & Finance

Banking & Finance

7. The Problem: Escrow Services

When purchasing/selling a second hand car, the buyer/seller has to effect the exchange of money by relying on a cheque, using a bank transfer or exchange large quantities of physical cash in person. Each of these channels carries with it certain risks, inconvenience and inefficiency. In particular, the buyer usually has to transfer all the funds to the seller before taking delivery of the car.

The Ask: Create a digital solution which enables the transfer of funds between a buyer and seller to be effected only when there is an electronic confirmation from the relevant government authority that the ownership registration has been transferred to the buyer. Before this electronic confirmation is obtained, the solution should hold the buyer's funds in secure escrow.

8. The Problem:  Digitisation of trade processes

It is an extremely time-consuming and manual process for banks to obtain trade finance documentation from their trade finance clients and other counterparties in the trade finance lifecycle.

The Ask: Create a one-stop efficient digital platform to enable banks to collect, authenticate and review trade documentation electronically in a secure manner from trade finance clients and the other various counterparties in the trade finance cycle.



9. The Problem: Digitisation of Insurance Processes

The process of selling and servicing of insurance products by insurers can often be manual-based and inefficient, resulting in a limited access to new customer segments.

The Ask: Develop a digital solution where consumers can buy, use, pay for and claim for insurance on their mobile phone or any digital device, thereby lowering the cost of selling and servicing of insurance products.

10. Data analytics

Price premiums of insurance coverage are not sufficiently calibrated to encourage better lifestyle choices.

The Ask: Develop a solution that leverages data or real-time insights from devices to create personalised insurance and dynamically price premiums for general and life insurance coverage.

Digital Marketplaces

Digital Marketplaces

11. The Problem: Financing platform for sustainable development

Greater access to private sector funding will support sustainable urban development as population rises, demand on infrastructure increases and cities intend to reduce carbon emissions.There is however a general lack of structured, inclusive marketplaces to facilitate the awareness and the financing of such projects.

The Ask: Develop an online platform that connects city planners and developers with the financial sector so that sustainable urban development projects can raise awareness and gain access to a wider investor pool.  The platform should act as an information repository, highlight projects for development and their key features, and facilitate contact between developers, government agencies and potential investors.

12. Platform for digital debt and equity issuance

Ease of access to private debt or equity funding and strategic investors is a key enabler of an innovative entrepreneurial ecosystem.  However, regulatory safeguards on investor protection against losses arising from illiquid investments and potential fraud have meant strict limits on unaccredited investors.

The Ask: Create a digital platform that enables the efficient creation, distribution and exchange of tokenised debt, equity or funds units to enable private enterprises to seek financing.  The tokens would be coded with investor safeguards to ensure compliance with applicable regulatory requirements.  The platform should be enabled by functions and processes that promotes issuer accountability, risk management, transparency and due diligence.

13. The Problem: API marketplace

Financial institutions often do not have a ready platform to allow them to test and experiment with FinTechs before selecting the best fit, while FinTechs are overburdened with the procurement processes incurred each time they interact with the financial institutions.

The Ask: Create a digital platform that would reduce both time to market and investments needed by financial institutions to create and offer open APIs to facilitate industry standardisation and creation of innovative customer-centric solutions.

Wealth & Asset Management

Wealth & Asset Management

14. The Problem: Access to high quality investments for all small investors

Small savers and retail investors face high financial and financial education barriers to entry to good quality investments that are typically accessible to institutional investors.

The Ask: Develop a digital / mobile app solution that enables retail individuals to invest into suitable investment products (e.g. through micro-investments of government bonds) in a low-cost, direct, transparent and seamless manner.

Security & Trust

Security & Trust

15. The Problem: Security for open banking/data

Financial markets, banks and financial institutions are harvesting, processing, storing and exchanging ever-increasing amounts of data.  Ensuring the right confidentiality, security and integrity of data is crucial for well-functioning financial markets.

The Ask: Develop a solution that can help financial institutions / companies detect, identify, predict and prevent financial cybercrime.

Develop a solution to enable selective disclosure / sharing of sensitive transaction data to other identified parties in a secure manner, mitigating cyber security risks.



16. ADGM welcomes participation from applicants with any other technological solutions that would enhance (i) business efficiency, (ii) cost-effectiveness; (iii) risk management; (iv) regulatory or security outcomes; and/or (v) consumer welfare in the financial services sector.

Applications for the Student Innovation Challenge have now closed

How to apply

To apply to the Student Innovation Challenge, you will need to:

  • Choose one of the challenges from the problem statements above.
  • Complete the online form here. Your application should be a free format written report of no more than 1,000 words entered into the online form. Supporting documentation may be uploaded in .pdf or PowerPoint format and limited to 10MB. It should explain in full detail your solution, and include diagrams, flow model etc. as applicable.

The Judging Process

Your application will be assessed and ranked by an internal team made up of Abu Dhabi Global Market, Abu Dhabi Global Market Academy, Unbound and FinTech Abu Dhabi partners. 

The decision of the judges to arrive at the top entries will be final. The highest ranked submissions (no less than three) will be invited to participate in the Presentation and Public Speaking Workshop in Abu Dhabi and present their solution at the annual FinTech Abu Dhabi Festival, which takes place in 2019 in Abu Dhabi from 21-23 October. 


There are numerous positive outcomes of being involved for students ranging from expert coaching and mentoring through to media coverage and exposure to members of the global financial industry. This is, of course, in addition to the kudos of winning the Challenge. 

These include:

  • An engraved commemorative plaque will be presented to each of the finalists
  • The finalists will be invited to attend MENA's Leading FinTech and Financial Event, FinTech Abu Dhabi, taking place in Abu Dhabi from 21 to 23 October 2019.
  • Up to four complimentary passes to attend FinTech Abu Dhabi (value of approx. AED 3,500 per ticket)
  • ADGM Academy will also host an ecosystem tour for the finalists during FinTech Abu Dhabi 2019 
  • One day coaching session to refine the pitch before the showcase event 
  • The opportunity to give an 8-minute presentation (including Q&A) to an audience of global financial industry executives and media


The Winner

The winning team or individual will be decided by a panel of expert judges who will also contribute the questions at the end of each proposal.

  • Promotion through FinTech Abu Dhabi’s digital channels
  • The winning entry will receive a cash prize of AED 10,000
  • Receive a 50% discount on Abu Dhabi Global Market Academy courses in digital innovation and finance conducted in 2019

Terms & Conditions

  • Applications will only be accepted from current students or those that have graduated in the last 12 months from an institution within the United Arab Emirates.
  • By submitting this application each applicant agrees that the Abu Dhabi Global Market, Abu Dhabi Global Market Academy and Unbound may share any submitted material with competition judges, staff and partners. 
  • All submissions should be clearly marked as copyrighted by the submitting team. The intellectual property relating to your submission remains with you.
  • All finalists must take part in the Presentation and Public Speaking Workshop in Abu Dhabi and present at FinTech Abu Dhabi to remain eligible.
  • The winner will be selected and announced at FinTech Abu Dhabi. Each team of finalists will present their idea to an audience of global financial industry professionals. There will also be a panel of expert judges, made up of senior industry professionals, who will see all presentations and drive the questions during the open Q&A. They will also select their stand out presentation. 
  • The judges scores will be combined, thereby arriving at an overall winner. Only the winner will be announced. The remaining participants will not be ranked in any way and all decisions will be final. 
  • The winning team will receive a cash prize of AED 10,000 (to be shared amongst the members of the winning team as agreed by the members). The winning team is responsible for any taxes that may be incurred upon winning the cash prize. They will also be eligible for a 50% discount on courses run by Abu Dhabi Global Market Academy in digital innovation and finance in 2019.

Co-Hosted by

                    Abu Dhabi Global Market                      Central Bank of the UAE

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Host City

FinTech Abu Dhabi - Host City - Abu Dhabi

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FinTech Abu Dhabi - Education Partner - ADGM Academy