Swiss fintech firms venture deeper into Middle East

Qatar and other Middle East nations have announced fintech strategies. Keystone / Yoan Valat

Swiss fintech company Instimatch has launched into the Middle East, having won a licence to operate in Qatar, and signed up its first Kuwaiti bank. The mineral and cash-rich region is proving a magnet for financial innovation from Switzerland.

This content was published on February 6, 2020 - 11:15
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Instimatch’s digital platform directly connects deep-pocketed corporate, financial and municipal lenders with global investments. The unsecured money-lending market shifts $200 billion (CHF194 billion) per day in Europe alone.

The company, which is poised to incorporate Islamic finance-compliant solutions and blockchain into its platform, says Qatar will be a springboard for further expansion in the Middle East and later to Africa and Asia. Qatar’s Masraf Al Rayan and Ahli banks are among the 80-plus entities signed up by Instimatch, along with Kuwait’s Gulf Bank.

Since 2017, Qatar has faced a diplomatic and economic blockade from a number of countries in the region, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. This has left the country seeking new conduits for trade and investment with the outside world.

Along with other countries in the region, Qatar recently launched a national fintech strategy to beef up its financial centre with digital innovations. This has attracted attention from fintech companies around the world, including Switzerland.

Competition

Digital banking service providers Crealogix, Avaloq and Temenos are already competing for customers in the region to integrate their software.

Last month, blockchain investment firm Crypto Valley Venture Capital (CV VC) and its business incubator CV Labs signed a deal with Dubai Multi Commodities Centre to launch a “crypto valley” in the emirate. The project aims to boost the region’s blockchain ecosystem with the help of other Swiss players such as Lykke, inacta and Tezos.

Blockchain company Lykke last year announced it was teaming up with Emaar Properties, one of the largest real estate developers in the Middle East that was behind the Burj Khalifa skyscraper, to puts its loyalty and referral rewards system onto a distributed ledger technology platform.

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