European platform B-Hive to help develop fintech ecosystem in Qatar

26 November 2018 4 min. read

In the latest in recent series of regional fintech agreements, the Qatar Financial Centre has signed a deal with European collaborative platform B-Hive to help develop the fintech innovation ecosystem in the country.

The Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) has brought on board B-Hive, a Brussels-based European community of industry collaborators, to help boost its financial technology credentials – with the two parties signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the mutual promotion of business opportunities and knowledge sharing between jurisdictions. The move comes as the states of the GCC race to establish themselves as world-class global fintech hubs.

In respect to the involvement of the tier-one consulting sector, so far this year the Dubai International Finance Centre (DIFC) has signed an agreement with Accenture to foster greater innovation at its FinTech Hive accelerator, the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) tapped Deloitte to help build a fintech ecosystem in Riyadh, and KPMG is extending its Digital Village concept to the region in collaboration with the Abu Dhabi Global Market. Earlier this year, Roland Berger joined Bahrain’s Fintech Bay as a founding partner, as well as for its recently launched Islamic fintech centre.

“Our MoU with B-Hive is a reflection of our commitment to financial innovation in the financial sector and will undoubtedly contribute to developing the growing FinTech industry in Qatar, while leveraging the sizable investment opportunities available in this sector,” said QFC CEO Yousuf Mohammed Al Jaida, who signed the deal with his B-Hive chief executive counterpart and Managing Partner Wim De Waele.European platform B-Hive to help develop fintech ecosystem in QatarBringing together major banks and financial services players with tech companies for the co-creation of innovative industry solutions, B-Hive counts the likes of strategy and management firms McKinsey & Company, Roland Berger and Strategy& among its range of associate partners (organisations which contribute to B-Hive’s knowledge network), along with Capgemini and KPMG. To Date, in addition to its Brussels base, B-Hive has established further international hubs in London, Tel Aviv and New York.

“B-Hive from the outset was designed to build bridges between the different innovative regions with a strong financial or technology sector. We are very pleased we can now extend that network to Qatar and look forward to the exchange of knowledge and jointly creating fintech business between the partners in the network,” De Waele said in response to the fresh regional agreement, with the DIFC’s Fintech Hive already featuring among the organisation’s international hub partners.

The MoU according to B-Hive and the QFC covers mutual co-operation in several areas such as knowledge sharing and keeping abreast of trends in respect to technologies and legislation, engaging with regulatory bodies, start-up support institutions and financial services companies, the development of training and talent programmes, and the possibility to explore potential joint projects and further business opportunities.

“We are witnessing a steady uptake of FinTech businesses in the Middle East, with the number of FinTech startups soaring to 105, from 46 between 2013 and 2015,” Henk Hoogendoorn, Managing Director, Financial Sector Office for QFC said at a recent panel discussion, with expectations that number will grow to 250 by 2020. “About eighty per cent of FinTech is non-regulated so we can start working on important themes such as cyber security, data analytics, digital access and a cashless FIFA 2022.”

A recent report on the general digital entrepreneurial landscape in the GCC and Egypt by McKinsey & Company pegged the current rate of overall digital realisation in the region at just 8 percent of its potential (a gap worth around $95 billion per annum to the collective Middle Eastern GDP), with Qatar noted as has having the least digital contribution to its GDP at just 0.4 percent – as compared to 8 percent in Bahrain and the regional average of 4.1 percent.