As an industry, financial technology (fintech), offers a significant opportunity to drive Qatar’s economic diversification, one of the four pillars of Qatar’s National Vision 2030, an official of Qatar Development Bank (QDB) has said.
Regulations and support dynamics, such as access to funding, have been put in place bringing up an exciting future for this rising sector, Hilal al-Kuwari, incubation specialist, QDB, told Gulf Times in an exclusive interview.
“In fact, the country is steadily becoming a regional fintech hub with a determined growth agenda,” said al-Kuwari, who explained that QFTH is founded by QDB to support the growth of the fintech industry in Qatar.
According to al-Kuwari, the country is already taking “big steps” to become a global fintech hub, notably by establishing the QFTH. This has created a sound ecosystem for incubating domestic fintechs and providing an enabling environment for foreign fintechs to invest and grow in the region, he stressed.
With two flagship incubator and accelerator programmes, running two waves per year, QFTH has completed three waves and its fourth is ongoing, al-Kuwari explained.
“QFTH has already supported 66 fintechs worldwide out of over 2,300 applications we have received across the four rounds we have launched. So far, we have invested more than $7mn in fintechs from early-stage startups to matured companies to support accelerating their growth.
“We have also mobilised partnerships with 13 global fintech hubs and have signed MoU’s with the industry’s big players, such as Microsoft, Visa, Mastercard, Vodafone, and most of the leading banks in Qatar,” al-Kuwari emphasised.
Furthermore, al-Kuwari said QFTH has launched a whitepaper to analyse the factors and conditions driving fintech in Qatar and to showcase globally why and how the country is emerging as a new home for this growing industry in the Middle East and North Africa.
He said the report features the results of detailed studies on various topics, such as the emerging players in the industry, key global fintech trends, drivers of Qatar’s startup attractiveness, key fintech collaborators and venture capitalists in Qatar, and other insights about the fintech ecosystem and their enablers in Qatar.
Al-Kuwari noted that the whitepaper had a wide audience of more than 10,000 people and was featured in various platforms across the region. It was in line with the Qatar Central Bank’s vision and was welcomed by all the major fintech associations globally, he also said.
Al-Kuwari stressed that QFTH’s incubator and accelerator programmes target entrepreneurs with innovative and cutting-edge fintech ideas, offering financial, mentorship, and training support.
“QFTH has, to date, registered 25 fintechs in Qatar, out of which, 15 are Qatar-based startups. These fintechs are operating and creating jobs in the local market. The impact of QFTH’s efforts can also be seen in the achievements of QFTH alumni – from raising funds to partnering with global players and launching new services in the local and regional markets.
“Moreover, we are in talks with Qatar University and others to create an internship programme for students, in partnership with QFTH fintechs with an aim to further cultivate and foster fintech talent in the country,” al-Kuwari added.