IBM hub to drive Qatar’s vibrant fintech ambitions

Qatar has been fast catching up to the globally trending technological developments and is shaping up well as a technology-led economy. The IBM Innovation Hub Doha, formulated by QDB, is focusing on creating and supporting fintech, sport tech and energy tech, Qatar Development Bank CEO, Abdulaziz bin Nasser Al Khalifa said yesterday.

The IBM Innovation Hub, launched with IBM’s initial investment of $37m, will act as a catalyst in developing Qatar as a fintech hub. Fintech is one of the important pillars of the IBM Innovation Hub, the QDB CEO told The Peninsula on the sidelines of a workshop jointly hosted by Qatar Development Bank and ADFMI on “Sharia compliance issues of crypto assets”, yesterday.

Al Khalifa said that QDB is planning to invest more into the Venture Capital fund initiatives. In May 2018, QDB signed deals with nearly half a dozen international venture capital firms providing QR100mn worth of funding for Qatari small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). “Currently we have more than 24 investors and we are looking to invest more”, he said.

Earlier, participating in the workshop, the QDB CEO said in the past few years, fintech has emerged as one of the biggest disruptors of the once-traditional banking industry. Innovative banking services that offer increased efficiency and lower costs have helped propel the rise of fintech as a global industry. According to QDB research, during Q1, 2018, the global fintech market witnessed a total investment of $57.9bn across 875 deals.

“QDB is taking tremendous efforts to offer much needed push to Qatar’s financial landscape, backed by technology. The ensuing year means big for Qatar’s fintech aspirations and QDB will play the role of a forerunner in making this happen with its slew of measures announced recently and some interesting developments will be announced soon, he said.

Giving an overview of crypto assets from Sharia perspective, Sheikh Ali Al-Qaradaghi, Chairman of Sharia Board, Qatar Development Bank said digital economy is part and parcel of a country’s real economy and it needs to be utilized. “ Islam accommodates innovation and technology….crypto currencies are permissible..but peculation is forbidden in Islam.”

According to ADFIMI (Association of National Development Finance Instituions) crypto-assets and cryptocurrencies have increased exponentially since 2008. It is estimated that there are more than 1,000 cryptocurrencies in existence today.

The participants observed that the emergence of fintech is only the latest wave of innovation to have hit the banking industry. While banks have undergone various techonolyg-enabled nnovaiton phases before, fintech has the potential to lowr barriers of entry to the financial services market and elevate the role of data as a key commodity and drive the emergence of new business models.

Source from: The Peninsula