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Dubai-based investment advisory platform Sarwa graduates from DFSA’s regulatory sandbox, first to get full license

Sarwa, a Dubai-based investment advisory platform has become the first participant to graduate from Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) regulatory sandbox after twelve months of testing, the agency announced on Monday.

The news comes two months after Sarwa raised its $1.3 million Pre-Series A.

With its graduation from the Innovation Testing License, Sarwa has now become the first company to receive a full Dubai Financial Services Authority License.

Founded last year by Mark Chahwan, Jad Sayegh, and Nadine Mezher, the startup helps people make investments through its automated investment platform where people can also access expert human advice from financial advisors to make their investment decisions. The idea behind the platform is “make investing easier, secure and more affordable by offering customers simpler way to invest their earnings for long-term financial growth.”

Before receiving the full license, the platform was limited to the UAE residents only but after receiving the full license now, it will be made available to users all across the region, Mark Chawan, the co-founder and CEO of Sarwa confirmed, speaking to MENAbytes. The users will be able to start investing from as little as $2,500.

DFSA closely observed Sarwa during its testing period and followed a rigorous process understand company’s underlying operating model while it tested its services within a controlled environment.

Speaking about working with DFSA, Mark commented, “During the Innovation Testing License, we worked very closely with the DFSA in an entirely new model for FinTech startups. We focused a lot on building out the ideal user experience, and worked out the right regulation around it. Not the other way around. We reviewed client feedback together, and learned a lot from some of the best regulators such as Alicia Kedzierski that will be working on regulating some very exciting technologies in the near future. This speaks to both the DFSA and Sarwa’s mission to ensure transparent and secure financial services with the client’s protection and well-being in mind.”

Bryan Stirewalt, Chief Executive of the DFSA, said, “When we first introduced the ITL programme our goal was to offer firms the flexibility to test their new business models and solutions, so they can develop innovative products and services to tackle the growing needs of the region’s financial services industry. Sarwa’s progress is the first tangible demonstration that this goal can be achieved. We look forward to more firms following suit.”

“Sarwa’s successful completion of its Regulatory Test Plan, and exiting the ITL, demonstrates the importance of regulatory sandboxes in fostering innovation and facilitating both established companies and start-ups as they create new and exciting solutions in financial services,” added the statement by DFSA.

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