UAE-based Islamic banking group Emirates NBD has partnered with the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Fintech Hive and Microsoft to launch an accelerator programme for metaverse start-ups.

The programme, which is Emirates NBD’s first move in the metaverse, is aimed at enhancing the customer experience for the new virtual economy.

The lender hopes to expand its digital footprint and create immersive experiences for customers via new technologies in web 3.0.

It is looking for fintechs, digital experience start-ups and emerging technology players operating across the metaverse.

Emirates NBD’s ten-week acceleration programme will focus on three key areas that include building the technology stack to support the shift to 3D, creating virtual worlds to enhance the customer experience in the metaverse and enabling a decentralised payment infrastructure to support the creation, monetisation, buying and selling of digital assets and services.

Emirates NBD head of retail banking Marwan Hadi 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.”

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The DIFC Fintech Hive will evaluate the programme participants on value creation, experience and technology stack, whereas Microsoft will provide the technical support for the initiative.

Microsoft UAE general manager Naim Yazbeck said: “In the metaverse, where physical and digital worlds come together to create an entirely new platform layer, we have an exciting opportunity to create transformative solutions that completely revolutionise the journeys and experiences of consumers.”

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