Virtual panel discussion on Qatar’s Growing FinTech Sector & Business Opportunities
On June 23rd, 2020, the US-Qatar Business Council (USQBC) hosted the virtual panel discussion on “Qatar’s Growing FinTech Sector & Business Opportunities” in collaboration with the Embassy of Qatar in the United States and FinTEx. The virtual discussion from sector experts provided US companies with an overview of the US-Qatar commercial relationship and the FinTech sector in Qatar including the regulatory environment, government initiatives, and business opportunities for US companies to support the sector’s development.
Speakers for the event included key experts in both the private and public sectors from the US and Qatar:
His Excellency Mr. Nasser Ibrahim Allenqawi, Consul General in New York for the State of Qatar;
Mr. Abdulaziz Al-Khalifa, CEO of Qatar Development Bank (QDB);
Mr. Yousuf Mohamed Al-Jaida, CEO of Qatar Financial Centre (QFC);
Mrs. Amy Nauiokas, Founder & CEO of Anthemis;
Mr. Randy Rivera, Managing Director of FinTEx; and
Mr. Mohammed Barakat, Managing Director of USQBC.
Al Dosari added:
“Under the leadership of His Highness the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, all of Qatar’s government agencies are committed to supporting U.S investment in the region and making Qatar a fintech hub for the Middle East.”
Qatar is already a leading financial hub in the Middle East through the sector’s emphasis on payment innovations and Islamic financial services. Set forth by the Qatar Central Bank (QCB), the National Fintech Strategy aims to support the burgeoning sector in partnership with several key local stakeholders including QFC and QDB. The Strategy will target opportunities in digital payments, money management, and lending, among others.
QFC has long recognized that Qatar’s FinTech sector is booming with opportunity, and we see innovating and supporting the growth of this sector as a vital avenue to diversifying Qatar’s economy.
Al Jaida added:
“Moreover, the ongoing Coronavirus crisis not only highlights the importance of tech and fintech, but also accelerates adoption and development. We will continue in our efforts to enrich and develop the tech and fintech infrastructure in Qatar as an enabling platform and look forward to seeing more international FinTechs, including those from the US, easily integrate into Qatar’s thriving eco-system via QFC’s FinTech license and wide range of benefits.”
QFC is focused on becoming a hub for FinTech in the region - a sector that saw global investment grow to some $111.8 billion by end of 2018, from $50 billion in 2017 according to KPMG. Already home to both leading European and Indian FinTech investors, QFC is also home to QPay, Qatar’s largest FinTech company.
In addition to its FinTech services provider license which enables FinTech’s easy access to Qatar’s lucrative market, QFC is also soon launching its ‘FinTech Circle’, a co-workspace for qualifying FinTechs free of charge for 12 months, which will enable Fintech communities and talents to network with large institutions and corporates as well as foster joint collaboration.
“What is remarkable is that this achievement comes within the wider framework of Qatar’s ongoing pursuit of entrepreneurship and business climate excellence, which led to its ‘Top 20’ ranking among countries undertaking reforms to develop the business and investment environment, as well as being ranked 1st in the MENA region in the National Entrepreneurship Context Index.”
In line with Qatar’s National FinTech Strategy, QDB announced the launch of the FinTech Incubator program (for early-stage start-ups) and the Accelerator program (for mature FinTechs), in collaboration with EY and MEDICI. The Programs will cater to local and global FinTech entrepreneurs who are looking for a launchpad and a hub to accelerate their growth within a healthy business ecosystem, with a focus on key priority areas such as payment solutions, solutions for SMEs, Islamic FinTech, and regulatory technology.
As part of the programs, FinTech entrepreneurs will have access to a team of international mentors from more than 10 countries, in addition to the necessary financial, regulatory, and registration support.
“The design of these programs reflects thoughtfulness, broad participation and commitment of the right mix of leaders who can affect change and attract the talent to make that change uniquely impactful, not just to the market, but to the regional fintech community as well.”
Qatar has continued to build a strong entrepreneurial sector and a competitive business climate capable of developing local SMEs on one hand and attracting foreign SMEs on the other. As a result, Qatar has advanced 18 spots in the national level of entrepreneurial activity, securing the 15th rank globally and the 2nd in the MENA region for the Total Early-Stage Entrepreneurial Activity (TEA) index, according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) Report 2019/2020.
Nauiokas added: “We look forward to solidifying some key relationships in Qatar as Anthemis further builds our MENA strategy.”
Anthemis, a venture investment platform with 100+ portfolio companies has created a dynamic ecosystem with more than 10,000 investors, incumbents and high-growth fintech companies around the world. They are currently looking to expand their ecosystem through cultivating relationships with strategic investors and continuing to build a pipeline of diverse fintech startups across the MENA region.
“Considering Qatar’s large payment processing and remittance market and its strategy to become a regional gateway for a huge market, I foresee rapid growth in Qatar’s FinTech sector.”
The US-Qatar Business Council is the premier entity to facilitate trade and investment between the two countries and hosts many events to build business relationships. More than 120 wholly-owned U.S. companies currently operate in Qatar, and there are more than 700 U.S.-Qatar joint ventures active in the country. USQBC looks forward to collaborating with interested FinTech investors as they establish themselves in Qatar.
Qatar Financial Centre
The Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) is an onshore business and financial centre located in Doha, providing an excellent platform for firms to do business in Qatar and the region.
The QFC offers its own legal, regulatory, tax and business environment, which allows up to 100% foreign ownership, 100% repatriation of profits, and charges a competitive rate of 10% corporate tax on locally sourced profits. The QFC welcomes a broad range of financial and non-financial services firms.
Qatar Development Bank
Qatar Development Bank aims to promote entrepreneurship spirit within the private sector in Qatar through providing the necessary services that shall ease the growth, development and diversification of this sector.
In doing so, QDB offers access to information, incubation, and capabilities to the Qatari Entrepreneurs, in addition to access to capital through direct and indirect financial services, investment and access to local markets, and access to international markets for Qatari exporters though export insurance and funding services. QDB's strategy is entirely in line with Qatar National Vision 2030. It is focused on promoting and facilitating the growth of the private sector in key economic sectors, with the aim of building a diversified, sustainable economy.
Anthemis is a venture investment platform founded on three guiding principles: authentic collaboration, virtuous cycle outcomes, and diversity, equity and inclusion.
Since 2010, we have been at the center of a vibrant ecosystem of startups and institutions dedicated to reinventing financial services for the digital world. We are committed investors, thoughtful advisors, active conveners and dedicated problem solvers who share a passion for technology and a belief in the transformative power of digital financial services.
FinTEx is a member-driven community focused on promoting innovation and collaboration within fintech. Through thoughtful programming and meaningful connections, the organization acts as a bridge for companies, thought leaders and innovators to resources and forward-looking partners around the world that are embracing innovation and technology.
US-Qatar Business Council
The US-Qatar Business Council develops, supports, and advances the bilateral relationship between the United States and the State of Qatar.
The Council achieves this vision primarily, but not exclusively, through improving the commercial and economic relationship between the US and Qatar. The Council offers business advisory services, consultancy services, and coordinates trade missions for US and Qatari companies to facilitate bilateral business.