Posted on September 22, 2019

The Qatar Financial Centre (QFC), one of the world’s leading and fastest growing onshore business and financial centres, has expanded the number of FinTech activities to be licensed and conducted by companies listed on the QFC platform, in a move which reaffirms its commitment to strengthening the FinTech ecosystem in Qatar.

Under new rules and guidance, the activity of non-regulated Professional Services firms has been widened to FinTech Services Providers which include activities such as, but are not limited to; providing cybersecurity solutions, application programming interfaces (API), cloud computing, developing blockchain-based technologies, Artificial intelligence and companies which provide a platform for facilitating real-time transaction capability of internet connected devices. By opening up to FinTech services providers, the QFC recognises firms that are delivering technology to the Financial Sector. QFC would like to ensure that Qatar remains well positioned as a leading international FinTech hub, as set out in the Qatar National Vision 2030. This initiative is also part of the QFC’s new strategy, announced earlier this year, in which the financial centre pledged to bolster Qatar’s FinTech sector.

The QFC has already cemented numerous agreements with FinTech entities with the aim of developing the industry in Qatar, including the memorandum of understanding with B-Hive, a European collaborative innovation FinTech platform, in October 2018. In addition, the expansion of FinTech services on the QFC platform also aligns to the Qatar National Fintech Strategy developed by Qatar Development Bank, and a taskforce which the QFC consulted on. Henk Jan Hoogendoorn, Managing Director of Financial Sector Office, QFC Authority said: “FinTech has seen significant growth over past few years and its applications are now prevalent in various sectors and industries, such as e-commerce, trade, banking and investment management. Moreover, today’s FinTech also includes a variety of technology which facilitates financial services, such as money transfers and robotics and artificial intelligence.”

Hoogendoorn added: “Innovating and supporting the growth of the FinTech sector has long been part of the QFC’s strategy to boost and diversify Qatar’s economy, and we are implementing this strategy by increasing the scope of FinTech activity non-regulated firms on the QFC platform can carry out. There is demand in the market from Banks and Insurance companies. The QFC has already opened its doors to FinTech firms such as Goals 101 and QPay, and we have a healthy pipeline for welcoming even more companies that offer innovative solutions and services in the thriving FinTech space.”

Sadiq Hamour, Director of Financial Institutions, QFC Authority said: “Despite the global FinTech industry’s remarkable growth, the Middle East accounts for only 1.8% of global fintech startups in the past five years. This means that there is still a lot of potential in this region to be realised, particularly in the Islamic finance FinTech space. According to an EY October 2018 report, FinTech that complies with Islamic law could help attract 150 million new banking customers in the next three years.” Hamour added: “Qatar is already working hard to invest in its FinTech infrastructure and create an appropriate regulatory framework for the evolving financial sector. We believe that by opening up the FinTech services available from the QFC, this activity can only be enhanced.”

In addition to the expanded services of non-regulated FinTech activity allowed on the QFC platform, the Investment Promotion Agency of Qatar LLP, will offer an incentive programme to international businesses that include business operations in the State. The QFC is an onshore jurisdiction that allows registered companies to enjoy competitive benefits, such as working within a legal environment based on English common law, the right to trade in any currency, up to 100% foreign ownership, 100% repatriation of profits, 10% corporate tax on locally sourced profits, and an extensive double taxation avoidance agreement network with 81 countries.

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