Qatar Fintech Hub (QFTH), co-founded by Qatar Development Bank (QDB), is open to include fintechs specialising in Islamic finance, regulatory framework and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) under the first wave of its Fintech Incubator and Accelerator programmes (IAP), according to its top official.

“The focus of Wave 1 is on payments technology but we are open to other areas too,” QDB chief executive Abdulaziz bin Nasser al-Khalifa said recently at a webinar, organised by the US Qatar Business Council (USQBC), in association with Qatar Embassy in the US and Fintex.

The Wave 1 of the IAP is centered on payments in alignment with the Qatar Fintech strategy, and in synergy with the Qatar Central Bank (QCB) – Sandbox and upcoming regulations.

QFTH has started receiving applications from entities that are looking for a launch-pad in the Middle East to accelerate their growth. It is learnt that QFTH has been receiving steady stream of inquiries for its first wave, whose incubator and accelerator programmes are virtual in nature in view of the Covid-19.

QFTH is also looking at fintechs specialising in Islamic finance, which includes takaful tech and Shariah-compliant crypto currency and smart contracts as well as at SMEs with emphasis on their funding, supply chain financing, trade and alternative financing.

“We aim to embed digital capabilities (including advanced analytics, block-chain) into the DNA of QDB to enable our SME economy to become competitive locally and globally,” al-Khalifa said.

In this regard, he said, QDB is in the midst of its digital transformation to reimagine how development finance institutions partner with SMEs throughout their lifecycle. Under Qatar’s Second Strategic Plan for Financial Sector Regulation 2017-22, fintech has been recognised as a primary tool for achieving long-term development goals for the financial sector.

The other focus area is Regtech that involves AML/CFT, digital identity, Sandbox simulator and risk management and compliance.

The enabling technologies are cyber security; artificial intelligence/machine learning; big data and analytics; distributed ledger technologies; and Qatar stack (visionary technology), he said.

“The QFTH Accelerator programme offers an amazing value preposition for the US fintechs that are looking to enter and expand in the region,” al-Khalifa said.

QFTH will act as a catalyst to transform Qatar’s financial services industry to become globally competitive, he said, adding through the use of technology, fintechs and financial institutions will focus on delivering meaningful solutions to solve identified local and global challenges.

QFTH has roped in Microsoft as the technology partner to support it in building a sandbox environment on Azure and Eversheds Sutherland as the legal partner to offer guidance to the fintechs participating in the QFTH programmes.

Additionally, QFTH has signed a memorandum of understanding with Cambridge Spark as one of the academia partners to facilitate its efforts to develop the fintech talent in Qatar.

QFTH aims to develop the fintech industry in Qatar, in accordance with the Qatar National Fintech Strategy created by the QCB, and to contribute and reiterate Qatar’s position as a leading international fintech hub in the region, as outlined in the Qatar National Vision 2030.

Source Gulf Times