The recent consolidation initiative of Islamic banks in Qatar is likely to increase their overall capitalization and funding capacity, thus providing more avenues for innovation and supporting Islamic fintechs.
Moreover, the rise of global fintech hubs has brought accelerators and incubators to the fore, thus making Qatar Fintech Hub (QFTH) well placed to support the local positioning and expansion of local and international fintechs, said Dr. Dalal Aassouli, Assistant Professor of Islamic Finance, HBKU College of Islamic Studies; and Thaddeus Malesa, Economist, Qatar Financial Centre; in their joint article in the Global Islamic Fintech Report 2021.
“Collective efforts to boost the four supporting pillars for Islamic fintech’s ecosystem in Qatar are underway. We see great promise for this sub-sector, especially with our existing competitive advantages in the Islamic banking space,” they said.
Qatar has witnessed the merger of Barwa Bank, a Shariah-principled lender, and IBQ to form Dukhan Bank. Recently, Masraf Al Rayan and Al Khaliji inked a pact for the merger, which is expected to be completed this year.
Building a supportive and sustainable Islamic fintech ecosystem is destined to widen commercial opportunities, spark international connections, and deepen technical expertise that will drive the sector forward and position Qatar as a leading Islamic fintech hub, they said.
Qatar is one of the leading systemically important Islamic banking jurisdictions in the world with Islamic banking assets representing more than 20% of the total local Islamic banking assets and about 6% of the global Islamic banking assets in 2019.
They said Islamic fintechs can also develop their commercial activities through collaborations with local and international stakeholders.
The pre-existing relationships between Qatari and Islamic financial institutions abroad, as well as the branch, networks Qatari banks, have invested in overseas, may further facilitate the global distribution of Islamic fintech by leveraging on their large customer networks, according to them.
Further, local and global partnerships can facilitate the sharing of best practices through broader stakeholder engagement to include Fintech lab centers, hub networks, venture capitalists, and other influential parties, they said, adding together these factors will enable the scalability of Islamic fintech solutions out of Qatar.
“Qatar is striving hard to build a vibrant environment and multiple financing channels for Islamic fintechs to succeed,” they said, highlighting that QFTH’s first cohort welcomed 24 fintechs 11 in incubators and 13 for accelerators.
Beyond that, efforts are underway to develop a vibrant angel investor community in Qatar and attractive incentive packages to lure leading fintechs, they said.
In this regard, they said the qualified fintechs applying for a QFC business license are eligible for waiving of application fee and first-year renewal fee as well as complimentary access to its Fintech Circle for the first 12 months on its platform.
The Islamic fintechs operating out of QFC will have a dedicated internal team and the QFTH to assist with market and investor access.