Qatarlyst is a secure web-based electronic platform designed for the negotiation and placement of insurance, facultative and treaty reinsurance and Takaful business. It has been developed to address the needs of brokers, insurers, reinsurers, Takaful and Re-Takaful companies through the intelligent use of sophisticated yet accessible technology. Qatarlyst is creating a community of insurers, brokers and reinsurers across the region, offering real-time connectivity. The platform has been established to underpin Qatar’s commitment to become a leading regional insurance, reinsurance and captive insurance hub.
While there are other markets in the region that have been vying for the title of regional financial services hub in the Middle East, the Qatar government’s approach to this objective was different. Most of the insurance hubs within the region are essentially physical hubs which rely on physical characteristics for them to succeed. For example, a physical hub requires:
- Proximity to a market that would generate a substantial volume of insurance business;
- Robust regulation and a legislative framework that inspires confidence in investors or customers to use that hub;
- Infrastructure to support residency and employment as well as the creation and development of business;
- The social, political and economic environment that underpins sustainability and development.
These points are individually discussed below in relation to the MENA region, Qatar and what the Qatar government is trying to achieve through Qatarlyst.
Proximity to Market
This explains, for example, the success of Bermuda (proximity to USA market and traditional ties with the London market); Jersey, Guernsey, Isle of Man and Gibraltar and their proximity to the London Market; Luxembourg, Dublin and Malta with their ‘onshore’ access to the EU single market etc.
Whilst Qatar continues to grow into a major international economic force which, as a consequence, feeds its financial services sector, Qatarlyst is on yet a different level than this. As a virtual market, Qatarlyst is being scaled internationally and, therefore, does not depend on proximity of business within the region as do other hubs in the Middle East. Although the MENA platform has close to 100 companies from around 10 countries on it, the platform of Qatarlyst’s wholly owned subsidiary in the United Kingdom (RI3K) has some 300 companies active on it. These transact business primarily in the London and / or Lloyds market through around 4,000 users. Therefore, although it is the objective of Qatarlyst to grow the local and regional business (because it feels that it can be of service to the region) its aspirations and, indeed, its market-place is truly global. Its success is less dependent on the fortunes of the region as is the case with other regional hubs and as has been poignantly illustrated in some case by the recent financial crisis and socio-political strife.
Being international, Qatarlyst is domicile-neutral. It can be used by any company within their respective markets and subject to their respective regulatory environments without imposing a fresh or yet evolving set of legislation.
This being said, user-license agreements impose a duty on Qatarlyst to observe requirements, such as retention of data, data protection etc. generally imposed by regulators internationally.
Infrastructure and other issues
Being web-based, Qatarlyst brings the market to the user. This requires significant and ongoing investment by the company on IT, business continuity and recovery management in addition to the investment in the general engagement and client support services. All of these are requirements on Qatarlyst and not an imposition on the users.
The platform can be accessed anytime anywhere provided that an internet connection is available. Qatarlyst is providing the necessary engagement support services to enable this. This was recently underlined by Mr. Khalid A. Mughesib, Deputy CEO and Qatarlyst Board Member, during a relatively intensive user-training drive. He was quoted as saying, “We want to match the engagement of our clients with support from our teams; hence it is necessary for us to be as close to our community as possible.” Hence the reason for Qatarlyst having offices in Qatar, London and UAE and is planning to open others as the community continues to grow.
The concept for both the Qatarlyst and Qatarlyst Ri3K platforms is very straightforward; i.e. no software is needed, users simply log on and trade.
In a nutshell, the above explains why Qatar, by pioneering Qatarlyst, is ahead of the game in terms of creating a truly international insurance hub.
In recent weeks it has also attracted some international heavyweights from the reinsurance arena in addition to retail insurance brokers and insurers primarily from the MENA region. This growth (and geographical diversification) of the Qatarlyst community is helping to increase usage. Eventual integration of the London Market and MENA platforms will create the single largest insurance community trading in a single virtual market.