The Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) has been playing a significant role in the development of Qatar’s thriving financial technology (fintech) ecosystem by providing local and international firms with a wide range of benefits.
“As Qatar marches steadily on to achieving its 2030 vision, the ambitious nation has recognised the fintech industry as a key component in realising a knowledge-based economy,” QFC managing director, Financial Sector Office, Henk Hoogendoorn, told Gulf Times in a statement.
Hoogendoorn said, “The National FinTech Strategy, set by the Qatar Central Bank (QCB), provides a framework for initiatives that enable the local startup sector and create a favourable ecosystem for international fintech’s to choose Qatar as their launch pad to the global market.”
“With that aim, QCB has partnered with Qatar Development Bank (QDB) and Qatar Financial Centre to rollout Qatar FinTech Hub (QFTH) to stimulate the sector and rise to meet the evolving needs of the country,” he also said.
Hoogendoorn noted that QFTH aims to deliver on the Qatar National Vision 2030, as well as supporting the local market and enabling the development of the economy required for home-grown state-of-the-art financial technologies that cater to the needs of the tech-savvy Qatari consumer.
The nationwide fintech strategy aims to improve digital payments platforms, money management, lending, and various other financial industry segments, Hoogendoorn explained.
“Within that framework, international fintechs can easily integrate into Qatar’s thriving ecosystem via QFC’s FinTech Services Provider License and wide range of benefits,” he continued.
QFC announced a significant increase of 78% in the number of new firms licensed on the QFC platform in 2020, compared to 2019, Hoogendoorn pointed out, adding that QFC registered 364 firms in the year to December 31, 2020, compared to 204 firms registered over the same period in 2019.
Hoogendoorn stressed that the expansion of the QFC-registered firms, which represents a variety of industries, both financial and non-financial services, included a record increase of “153%” in the digital sector.
“Given the tremendous opportunities that emerged in the technology and digital sectors amid the Covid-19 outbreak, and backed by the QFC’s FinTech Services Provider License, the platform welcomed 96 new digital firms, hailing from countries all over the world, including India, the US, Pakistan, Lebanon, and France,” he said.
According to Hoogendoorn, QFC is an onshore jurisdiction that allows registered companies to enjoy competitive benefits, such as up to 100% foreign ownership, 100% repatriation of profits, 10% corporate tax on locally-sourced profits, and an extensive double taxation treaty network with 85 countries, a legal environment based on English common law, and the right to trade in any currency.
“QFC offers a FinTech Services Provider License that allows these companies to easily access the nation’s evolving capital markets. This includes providing fintechs with access to the QCB Sandbox and contributing to high-level workshops led by QCB and QFC. QFC also offers fintechs commercial establishment, including waiving the registration and license fees for the first year and a fast track work visa and Qatar ID.
“QFC has recently launched its ‘FinTech Circle’, a co-workspace for qualifying fintechs free of charge for 12 months. This will enable fintech communities and talents to network with large institutions and corporates, as well as foster joint collaborations,” Hoogendoorn emphasised.