Qatar’s new strategy for financial technology (FinTech), which the Qatar Central Bank announced is set for launch in the last quarter of this year, will boost Qatar’s regional leadership in financial technology services, economic experts have said.
Qatar Central Bank Governor Sheikh Bandar bin Mohammed bin Saoud Al Thani announced last week at the Euromoney Qatar Conference that the bank was working on designing a new strategy for financial technology.
He said a fully-integrated payments platform will be created as part of the current update of the payment system software, including a central infrastructure system for swift payments network. The Qatar Central Bank is also creating the necessary infrastructure to enable banks to approve payments from digital wallets.
Financial technology strategies are essentially based on technological research and development, to support transition from traditional channels to digital alternatives in banking works, as preparations are currently ongoing to launch the digital banks, or what is dubbed as new banks, that offer banking services via mobile phone applications and services.
Qatar Central Bank has formulated and disseminated numerous regulations related to financial technology, including electronic insurance guidelines, payment services regulations, and principles of the electronic “KYC” controls. Moreover, the number of companies providing financial technology services in the experimental virtual environment has been increased prior to the licensing process, to ensure that these companies have safer and more effective payment options.
Economic expert Dr Abdullah Al Khater confirmed in a statement to (QNA) that Qatar has made significant steps and witnessed a qualitative leap in this field the past few years.
He said the banking system in Qatar adapted quickly to technological variations, and made a success in addressing the challenges through digitizing the banking operations thanks to the strategic plans the Qatar Central Bank is pursuing, which have primarily contributed to accelerating the banking operation in terms of performing recurring works such as token currencies and other operations that are accomplished over phone applications and various electronic media utilizing artificial intelligence, which have substantially altered the scene in the banking sector in the state of Qatar.
Dr Khater pointed to the great awareness demonstrated by the professionals in this field, including their willingness to make state of Qatar a major base for upgrade and innovation in FinTech, which has emerged with the large number of applications utilized by Qatari banks.
He emphasized that what distinguishes the network of financial technology services in the State of Qatar is the adherence to the conditions of security and safety, as the various banking transactions are characterized by the highest international standards that ensure the rights of customers with the accuracy, smoothness and flexibility.
He also stressed that the strategy has set many basic objectives to be further accomplished, including the development of human cadres to serve the development of financial services and products offered to investors and clients respectively.
Dr Khater asserted the need to prioritize financing element in this strategy, which it deserves through streamlining the procedures, particularly those directed to entrepreneurs, and introducing the required upgrade regarding the mechanism for assigning credit facilities that are still stagnant regarding the required guarantees.
Sobhi Shabib, a specialist in financial technology and General Manager of GBM in Qatar, said the intention of the Qatar Central Bank to launch a new strategy for financial technology by the last quarter of this year is an important step for the development of financial and commercial services, and a quantum leap for the banking sector.
He said that the new strategy will improve the competitiveness of the Qatari economy, open wider horizons for banks and private companies, and contribute to providing financial services and products at competitive prices, quickly and efficiently.
Shabib added that financial technology (FinTech) is a technical innovation based on providing advanced financial and banking services by companies in cooperation with banks, indicating that its impact will be positive on the national economy, and will further accelerate the pace of completion of financial operations. It will also provide some services to banks that were previously unavailable to them.
He explained that financial technology also saves customers a lot of time and effort and reduces costs, in addition to communicating at any time with ease, as obtaining the service takes only a few seconds, noting that the Qatari banking sector, under the new strategy, is promising to transform, and that today’s world is witnessing the launch of digital banks that provide banking services through electronic applications around the clock, which has reduced cost levels compared to their traditional counterpart.
He also pointed out that what distinguishes the new strategy is that it is subject to regulations and includes electronic insurance guidelines, payment services regulations, and all required banking rules and procedures, which enhances customers’ confidence in banks and companies in which they operate with a license from the competent authorities, and therefore they will be safe in providing services and products.
Shabib noted the acceleration of the shift to digital payments, due to the renewal and multiplicity of customer needs, the removal of barriers to financial services and the reduction of costs, which made financial technology witness more demand as a promising investment, especially in light of its ability to adapt to the fundamental changes taking place in the banking sector and financial institutions. The direction of the Qatar Central Bank is in line with the digital age that relies on data as real capital and integrates economic expertise, financial skill, statistical analysis, programming and cloud platforms into a single vision of financial and banking operations.
In its annual report, Qatar Central Bank had previously highlighted the importance of financial technology, saying that recognizing the importance of innovation and electronic financial growth in general and payment services in particular for the development of the Qatari economy, an exclusive department for the electronic financial system was established at Qatar Central Bank, and a strategy for financial technology was developed. It aims to develop a collaborative and connected financial ecosystem to meet the long-term goals of Qatar National Vision 2030.
Qatar Central Bank has also implemented several standard policies and procedures to promote electronic payments in Qatar. One of the main initiatives in this regard was the rationalization of fees and operational deadlines for payment systems.