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Qatar fintech scheme opens for next applications

Qatar: the QFTH runs incubator and accelerator programmes for fintechs ‘looking for a launchpad and a hub in the Middle East' | Credit: RAS_RNS; Pixabay

A Qatari initiative to encourage fintech growth has opened the application process for its second cohort of internationally ambitious start-ups.

The Qatar FinTech Hub (QFTH), co-founded by the government-owned Qatar Development Bank (QDB), aims to help both local and non-Qatari fintech entrepreneurs and companies that are looking to grow internationally. It runs parallel ‘incubator’ and ‘accelerator’ programmes for early-stage and ‘mature’ fintech companies, respectively.

Its new call for applications launched today (15 December) and closes at the end of January 2021, with virtual pitch-days scheduled for February.

The focus is on emerging technologies for financial services and companies ‘looking for a launchpad and a hub in the Middle East to accelerate their growth at an international level’. The second cohort’s programmes would start in March and culminate in a demo day in mid-June 20201.

Each participating fintech will receive financial and in-kind support that the QFTH values as worth up to $250,000 (about £184,000), ‘with mentoring and training provided by QFTH in the form of investment’. This investment will ‘ensure a long-term relationship between the hub and the fintech to help them navigate the local financial service ecosystem in Qatar and also support them in raising future rounds of funding,’ the QFTH says.

First cohort ‘well on their way’

Global Government Fintech reported a couple of months ago on the first cohort of the incubator and accelerator programmes.

The QFTH received more than 750 applications from early-stage and established fintechs in Qatar and 72 other countries. More than 20 fintechs overall were selected to participate. This first cohort are now ‘well on their way to launch a host of new and empowering services to fuel the digital transformation of the markets across the region and globe,’ the QFTH said this week.

The QFTH was launched by the QDB in May 2018, with the support of Qatar Central Bank (QCB). It has collaborated with local and international institutions, including financial institutions, technology and service providers, payment networks, academic institutions, regulators, in addition partnering with other fintech hubs from Singapore, the UK, Turkey, Australia, India, Lebanon, Nigeria and Sweden.

The QDB, previously known as Qatar Industrial Development Bank, was created in 1997 with the objective of diversifying Qatar’s economy by promoting developmental projects. Just over 18 months ago it became the first member of the ‘international hub’ of UK fintech association Innovate Finance.

QDB chief executive Abdulaziz bin Nasser Al Khalifa, who is also chairman of Qatar’s national fintech taskforce, said: “The announcement of the second wave of the programmes shows our commitment towards the development of the financial service ecosystem in Qatar.”