By utilising Financial Technology (Fintech) solutions, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) could gain more access to funding, the chief executive of Qatar Development Bank (QDB) has said.
“Through Fintech… there is a huge opportunity for SMEs in GCC countries, particularly in Qatar, to gain more access to funding, which is among the major challenges that SMEs are facing globally,” said QDB CEO Abdulaziz bin Nasser Al-Khalifa during a panel discussion during the ‘Qatar-UK Financial Services Event’ held in Doha yesterday. Besides Al-Khalifa, the panel comprised of Qatar Financial Centre CEO Yousuf Mohamed Al-Jaida, UK Export Finance CEO Louis Taylor, and Anthemis Group partner Gavin Holland.
During the panel, Al-Khalifa underscored the role of QDB in providing financing opportunities for SMEs, as well as a wide range of facilities, training, and advisory services to help small companies grow their businesses.
He said there are opportunities available for SMEs to succeed in the local and global market. Locally, Al-Khalifa pointed to the rapid developments happening across Qatar, as well as new opportunities in the field of financial services, health, sport, and Fintech. Among its achievements in supporting SMEs in Qatar, al-Khalifa said QDB helped 1,500 companies achieve global presence. QDB was also able to support more than 8,500 companies take advantage of procurement opportunities available locally by providing SMEs access to government contracts, as well as many other facilities.
As an investment platform, Al-Jaida said the QFC provides a distinct business environment that operates in accordance with English common law through a system of independent courts. He said the QFC is keen to attract local and foreign investment to work under its platform.
Citing official figures, Al-Jaida said “nearly 95%” of listed companies in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) is represented by SMEs and contribute to 50% of job generation.
Citing the challenges to access to funding, Al-Jaida said the State of Qatar is keen to provide the necessary support to SMEs and address related issues. He said the QFC provides “the appropriate environment” to ensure the success and growth of SMEs.
In another panel discussion, QCB head of Information Security Jassem Abdullah Al-Obaidli said “it is inevitable” that financial institutions will be exposed to cyberattacks. He said cyberattacks have witnessed immense transformation recently, citing attacks in different sectors.
He stressed that the QCB, as a regulator, plays an important role in carrying out supervisory oversight to ensure that the financial sector is flexible and prepared for any cyberattack.
Head of the Electronic Security Control Department at QCB, engineer Sara Khamis Al-Khelaifi, also stated that there is diversity, especially with regard to the models adopted to address cyberattacks and maintain information and data security. In this context, she stressed the need to have advanced processes to counter cyberattacks.
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