Fintech can enable Islamic finance to attract more customers, increase efficiency, reduce costs and offer a wider range of products, helping the sector become more competitive against conventional finance, according to the Qatar Financial Center (QFC).
The Islamic banking and finance industry currently reaches about 100mn customers worldwide while the potential market is six times that, Ahmed Hafez, head of Refinitiv Qatar, told ‘Qatar-UK Fintech Roundtable’, organised by the QFC in partnership with Qatar Development Bank (QDB) and Refinitiv, in London.
“This gap can also be tapped through fintech. Qatar, through the QFC, is well positioned to make use of these opportunities developing the country into a regional fintech hub,” he said.
Islamic finance has taken great strides this century, with Shariah-compliant financial assets forecast to total $3.8tn by 2022 up from $2.2tn in 2016, with around 1,400 Islamic financial institutions now operating across 80 countries, according to a Refinitiv report.
The QFC recently unveiled its multi-pronged strategy, focusing on new clusters such as media, digital, sports and financial services as part of furthering its contribution to Qatar’s economic diversification efforts.
Furthermore, the QFC is home to several fintech firms, including Goals101 Data Solutions, India’s leading fintech and Big Data Technology platform.
“The Qatar-UK Fintech Roundtable is part of our efforts to contribute to building a vibrant fintech and digital banking ecosystem in Qatar, marking another step in a new era of growth for Qatari companies which will enormously help in achieving the Qatar National Vision 2030,” said Abdulaziz bin Nasser al-Khalifa, QDB chief executive.
Henk J Hoogendoorn, managing director (Financial Sector Office), QFC, said both Qatar and the UK are vital markets for this fast-growing industry, and it therefore makes sense that the two countries co-operate and provide the necessary leadership to leverage fintech to achieve its full potential.
“The bilateral relationship between the UK and Qatar is important for the Islamic finance and wider financial services sector,” said Abdul Haseeb Basit, co-founder and Principal at Elipses.