Mr. Henk Hoogendoorn, Managing Director of Qatar Financial Center’s Financial Sector Office opined that numerous new startups in the country are providing innovative solutions to customers.
Mr.Hoogendoorn citing Cwallet, Qatar’s newest fintech solutions provider stated that it is the country’s ‘first and only’ mobile application to facilitate banking via blockchain technology. Cwallet allows access to financial services, like payroll, payments, and remittances, targeting the low-income, high-volume market which includes Qatar’s expat community.
‘Cwallet officially went live in June 2020 and is now valued at more than $2 million, and has softly secured $200,000 of the pre-seed round from an angel investor, as well as the founders of Cwallet,’ Mr. Hoogendoorn stated.
Qatar is a leading financial destination in the Middle East and it has been including Shariah-compliant blockchain technology into its existing financial and legal infrastructure through the sector’s emphasis on digital payments and lending, among others, to emerge as a regional fintech hub.
“Qatar ranked high on ‘Ease of Doing Business’, as the country develops fintech-friendly policies, including launching its regulatory Sandbox. Furthermore, the demand for cashless and contactless payment has significantly increased after the outbreak of COVID-19, which led to the imposition of restrictions to limit the spread of coronavirus. The rising demand for contactless payment in Qatar has created opportunities for growth for the fintech sector. The latest financial technology may be used to accept digital payments at the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup, instead of cash.”
The National FinTech Strategy, developed by Qatar Central Bank (QCB), offers a framework for initiatives that supports the local startup sector and create a favorable condition for international fintech to choose Qatar as their launchpad to the global market.
QCB has partnered with Qatar Development Bank (QDB) and QFC to launch the Qatar FinTech Hub (QFTH) to boost the sector and rise to meet the evolving needs of the country.
“Participating international fintech was grateful that now there is a clear pathway for them to register their company in Qatar, and being introduced to key industry players within a couple of weeks, a process that without the Incubator and Accelerator Programmes would be very daunting. Local entrepreneurs also benefited from getting introduced to other key fintech players in Qatar, and the services that are available, which in turn leads to extensive collaboration and partnership opportunities,” Mr. Hoogendoorn said.
The QFTH programs’ local mentors from distinct financial institutions are capable of supporting the fintech with local market knowledge and insights. In addition to offering networking opportunities, it also helps with technical advice and assists the startups with their overall product offering. The role of mentors is a longer-term relationship, which in some cases results in the mentor being an integral part of the fintech, its board of directors, or even play an advisory position.