Posted on May 15, 2019

The Qatar Financial Centre (QFC), one of the world’s leading and fastest growing onshore business and financial centres, hosted a panel discussion entitled ‘Qatar-UK Fintech roundtable’ in partnership with Qatar Development Bank (QDB) and Refinitiv, in London.

Strong participation of senior executives was secured from key Fintech organisations and high-level decision makers such as QFC, QDB and QCB, among others, discussing how the two countries can work together to fully leverage Fintech to its maximum potential in Qatar. During the discussion, Henk J. Hoogendoorn (pictured), Managing Director of Financial Sector Office, QFC, noted that the growth of Qatar’s Fintech market presents abundant opportunities for key partnerships between the UK and Qatar to fully develop these areas.

The QFC recently unveiled its multi-pronged strategy, focusing on new clusters such as media, digital, sports and financial services as part of furthering its contribution to Qatar’s economic diversification efforts. Furthermore, the QFC is home to several fintech firms, including Goals101 Data Solutions, India’s leading fintech and Big Data Technology platform. Ibrahim Mohammed Hassan, Executive Director of Investments, Qatar Development Bank, shared details on Qatar’s Fintech Strategy in a presentation which further highlighted the measures taken by QDB to promote the development and adoption of Fintech.

Abdulaziz Bin Nasser al-Khalifa, Qatar Development Bank CEO said: “The Qatar-UK Fintech roundtable is part of our efforts to contribute to building a vibrant fintech and digital banking ecosystem in Qatar, marking another step in a new era of growth for Qatari companies which will enormously help in achieving Qatar National Vision 2030. Always staying at the forefront, QDB is taking tremendous efforts to offer the much needed push to Qatar’s financial landscape, aptly backed by technology.” Henk J. Hoogendoorn, Managing Director of Financial Sector Office, QFC said: “The Qatar-UK roundtable provided a valuable forum to explore the role that established players in the financial services industry must assume in the future growth of Fintech. Both Qatar and the UK are of course vital markets for this fast-growing industry and it therefore makes sense that the two countries cooperate and provide the necessary leadership to leverage Fintech to achieve its full potential.”

Ahmed Hafez, Head of Refinitiv Qatar, stressed that there are tremendous opportunities for Islamic Fintech and Islamic banking institutions taking up Islamic Fintech to reach out and improve the attractiveness of their products.  The Islamic banking and finance industry currently reaches approximately 100 million customers worldwide while the potential market is six times that. This gap can also be tapped through Fintech.  Qatar, through QFC, is well positioned to make use of these opportunities developing the country into a regional Fintech hub.

He added that Fintech can enable Islamic finance to attract more customers, increase efficiency, reduce costs and offer a wider range of products, helping the sector become more competitive against conventional finance as discussed during the roundtable. Islamic finance has taken great strides this century, with Sharia-compliant financial assets forecast to total $3.8 trillion by 2022 up from $2.2 trillion in 2016, with around 1,400 Islamic financial institutions now operating across 80 countries, according to a Refinitiv report.

Abdul Haseeb Basit, Co-Founder and Principal at Elipses said: "The bilateral relationship between the UK and Qatar is important for the Islamic Finance and wider financial services sector. We are delighted to support Qatar through showcasing the Qatar FinTech Strategy and building the links to allow FinTech firms, including Islamic FinTech firms to access both markets."

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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