Qatar is witnessing robust momentum in the fintech (financial technology), opening up increasing opportunities for digital payments, money management, lending, loyalty and rewards, remittances, investments and advisory, the top official of the central bank said yesterday.
“For all of these fintech opportunities, we have to measure the impact financially and strategically, as well as how it relates to the customer, to assess whether we should pursue each opportunity,” Qatar Central Bank (QCB) Governor HE Sheikh Abdulla bin Saoud al-Thani told a Carnegie Mellon University Qatar seminar.
Fintech can help achieve the QCB’s goals in the financial sector strategy, he said, highlighting that global investment in fintech had increased by 66% between 2010 and 2015.
An ideal fintech ecosystem features available talent, well informed investors, and a regulatory environment that is both open and stable, he said, adding in order to create such an environment in Qatar, banks and regulators have to collaborate with fintech firms to provide the best possible customer service.
“Co-operation is the way forward, and the QCB is in the collaboration stage. We are looking to partner with startups to combine the best of both worlds, combining our regulatory know-how and customer reach with their innovation and agility,” the governor said. He said the QCB’s recently launched new strategy would need to ensure that fintech firms are enhancing the financial system.
Highlighting that fintech investments in the Middle East and North Africa region are limited, Sheikh Abdulla said less than 0.1% of global fintech investment originates in the Middle East. Although there have been some success stories, he said banks and insurance companies in the region have been slow to embrace innovation.
“In Qatar, a committee/task force has been set up to develop a strategy and ecosystem” (for fintech), Sheikh Abdulla said.
The fintech industry in Qatar remains very small, but it has seen a few startups such as Hasalty, a mobile application improving financial literacy for children supported by the Qatar Business Incubation Centre, according to the Qatar Islamic Finance Report 2017, a joint initiative by the Qatar Financial Center, Thomson Reuters and Islamic Research and Training Institute.
However, fintech has been gaining popularity as financial institutions begin to explore avenues for digitalising their business and transforming their current practices, the report said.
Michael Trick, dean of CMU-Q, said the QCB governor raised an important concept of teamwork as Qatar and the world embrace fintech as a way of doing business.
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