Acting as a catalyst to transform Qatar’s financial services industry to become globally competitive, Qatar FinTech Hub (QFTH) aspires to become a globally-recognised hub that connects likeminded hubs, organisations, and regulators worldwide, an official of Qatar Development Bank (QDB) has said.
QFTH will continue to be the flagbearer of the fintech agenda in Qatar, focusing on empowering the country’s fintech ecosystem by connecting relevant stakeholders. It is well on its path to becoming a globally-recognised and leading hub for fintechs, Hilal al-Kuwari, incubation specialist, QDB, told Gulf Times in an exclusive interview.
Al-Kuwari said one of QFTH’s key objectives is to transform Qatar into an advanced society capable of achieving sustainable development, “which is perfectly aligned with the Qatar National Vision 2030.”
“By nurturing local talent and sourcing the best international fintechs to Qatar, we are creating a pool of companies that is contributing towards the economic, social, and human development in the region. We have companies that are even disrupting the local market with cutting-edge technology and solutions, such as cashless payments, artificial intelligence, NextGen banking, and digital identity, among others.
“We have carefully identified the gaps in the Qatari market and strategically positioned each of our waves to focus on a specific challenge that needs to be solved to support the country’s development. Our Wave 1 was focused on payments, Wave 2 on emerging technologies, Wave 3 on embedded finance and techfin, and Wave 4 on Next Generation banking. Throughout each wave, we strive to attract fintechs that offer services that are not yet available in Qatar,” al-Kuwari explained.
In its fourth wave, al-Kuwari said QFTH’s prestigious incubation programme is attended by five early-stage fintechs, including Yougo Payway from Qatar, FinMind and Nervegram from the US, FUNDSAIQ from the UK, and from Malaysia.
On the other hand, eight mature fintechs, including ADGS and UrbanPoint from Qatar, Cadorim from Belgium, Bankograph from Singapore, Authenteq from Germany, Mihuru from India, Paycruiser from the US, in addition to Qatar-based Anchor FinTech and Zwipe from Norway, are participating in the accelerator programme, he also said.
According to al-Kuwari, QFTH has achieved many milestones, having supported graduating fintechs to reach great heights since its launch.
Doha-based fintech startup Karty, the winner of QFTH Hackathon, has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Doha Bank in a strategic partnership aimed at promoting, improving, and elevating financial literacy and innovation in Qatar.
This marked the beginning of a collaboration between Doha Bank and Karty under the startup’s Financial Literacy Campaign as part of the fintech fast-track programme in the Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East, and Africa (CEMEA) region, in partnership with Visa.
Karty, also an awardee of the Innovation Coupon (IC), a funding programme under Qatar Foundation Research, Development and Innovation (QFRDI), has fast-tracked its growth in the Qatari market since its launch in 2021, said al-Kuwari.
With the support of major public and private sector players in Qatar, including the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC), Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP), and the Digital Incubation Centre (DIC), the startup is now extending its fintech expertise to the wider community, he said.
Al-Kuwari said, “Qatar Islamic Bank is the first bank in Qatar to launch a conversational virtual assistant using AI and machine learning algorithms as part of QIB’s ongoing efforts to provide digital solutions to empower its customers and meet their ever-changing banking needs.
“This was powered by Active.Ai’s, a startup from Singapore and a graduate of QFTH’s Wave 2 accelerator programme. Active.Ai is a conversational AI platform that enables institutions to communicate digitally with their consumers, understand their intent, be contextually aware, handle a variety of instructions in multiple languages, and even handle acronyms or slang in a delightful manner.”
He also said, “This is in addition to TESS Payments, which has been playing an active role in the market to provide merchants with a one-stop solution to use multiple payment options, and Twayla, which has been a leading payment service provider with a number of merchants as part of their ongoing business.”
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