Technology driving economic transformation at fastest-ever pace: Experts

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Doha – Emerging technologies, such as the rise of blockchain and deployment of artificial intelligence, will have a transformative effect on economies around the world, according to national and international experts speaking at The Euromoney Qatar Conference.

Governor of Qatar Central Bank H E Sheikh Abdulla Bin Saoud Al Thani, opened the second day of the event, outlining Qatar’s position of stability and strength after a tumultuous year, and exciting potential opportunities that lie ahead.

“The country’s economy has remained strong and inflation levels have remained stable. All infrastructure projects including roads, bridges, and stadiums, are being implemented according to plan and will be completed on time. The new state budget for coming year 2018 supports economic diversification and there is also an increase in government expenditure on all projects and services,” said Sheikh Abdulla.

“Qatar’s financial sector remains strong. Total assets of commercial banks operating in Qatar during the first nine months of 2017 grew by 12.8%, compared to 2016. In terms of savings collection, customers’ deposits with commercial banks increased by more than 17.5% over the same period in 2016. On the domestic level, credit facilities provided by commercial banks increased by 13% over the same period in 2016,” he added.

“Perhaps the most important lesson learned from the unjust embargo imposed on the State is self-reliance in order to achieve self-sufficiency in a number of goods and products and the settlement of services,” he concluded.

Mohsin Mujtaba, Director of Product and Market Development, Qatar Stock Exchange; Sami Boujelben, Chief Advisor – Chief Executive Office, Qatar Financial Markets Authority; and Talal Samhouri, Head of Asset Management, Amwal LLC tackled the challenges of deploying capital in expensive markets during the first panel discussion.

In a live poll of attendees taken during the event, a total of 61% felt that financial technology would cause significant disruption to traditional financial services over the next five years. Managing this disruption – and ultimately using it to advance Qatar’s financial sector – will require careful assessment of the risks, according to panellists.

Examining the role of FinTech, Bogdan Bilaus, President, CFA Society Doha, said: “CFA Society Doha, encourages and supports fintech solutions and innovation, but these should never happen at the expense of market integrity and investors’ protection.”

“For this, we engage with policy makers to advocate for technology through agnostic regulation: if a service is regulated when delivered face-to-face by human investment advisers then it should be similarly regulated when delivered on the smartphone by an artificial intelligence algorithm. The need for investors protection is the same, if not greater in the second case,” he added.

More than 600 international and national delegates attended The Euromoney Qatar Conference in 2017.

Victoria Behn, Director of Middle East and Africa at Euromoney Conferences, said: “This year’s Euromoney Qatar Conference has been a remarkable, watershed event, providing the most insightful commentary on the positioning of Qatar six months after the announcement of the blockade and outlining an exciting future path for development. We are very pleased with the quality of discussion and contribution and look forward to returning to Qatar next year.”

The Euromoney Qatar Conference is set to return to Doha in 2018.

 

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