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Qatar issues first digital payment licenses to fintech providers

Qatar as well as Saudi Arabia and the UAE are seeking to bolster their fintech sectors.
A man looks at his phone on the corniche in the Qatari capital Doha on July 2, 2017.

Qatar’s Central Bank granted the first-ever digital license payments in the country today.

The bank issued the licenses to Ooredoo Money and Vodafone Qatar’s iPay so they can provide digital payment services. The Central Bank hopes to oversee all companies providing digital payment services in an effort to “contribute to the development of the financial technology sector,” according to a statement. 

Ooredoo is a Qatari telecommunications giant. The company’s Money Wallet is a digital payment system. Vodafone, based in the United Kingdom, is also a telecom company. Vodafone Qatar’s iPay likewise provides digital payment services. 

What it means: Financial technology, or fintech, refers to the financial activity that occurs digitally, including via the internet and mobile phone apps. 

Why it matters: The fintech sector is growing throughout the Gulf as many countries in the region work to diversify economically and rely less on oil and gas. Earlier this month, the Saudi Central Bank approved two new fintech firms. In May, several fintech companies decided to join Abu Dhabi’s Hub71 startup community. 

Know more: Several Turkish fintech companies met with Qatari investors in February in order to attract Qatari investment in the sector. 

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