Qatar Central Bank
Under Law No 13 of 2012 Qatar Central Bank and the Regulation of Financial Services, QCB is deemed an autonomous corporate body, with a capital of QAR50 bn and under the direct control of The Amir. It is headed by a governor appointed by The Amir, and primary goals include financial stability, supporting developmental activities and strengthening the national economy. The law covers banks, insurance companies, exchange houses, Qatar Exchange and QFC‑registered entities. Amiri Decision No 65 of 2021 appointed HE Sheikh Bandar bin Mohammed bin Saoud Al Thani as Governor of QCB. qcb.qa
Under Law No 13 of 2012, the Financial Stability and Risk Monitoring Committee shall study existing and future risks related to all banking, financial, insurance and stock market activities. The panel works closely with the Ministry of Finance to frame general policies.
The law provides strict penalties for anyone accepting deposits from the public without a valid licence from the banking regulator – violators can face a jail term of up to five years and/or a fine of up to QAR5 mn. For those refusing to accept the legal tender of Qatar, there is a jail term of three years and/or a fine of up to QAR5 mn. Issuing forged currency means 10 years in jail and/or a fine of QAR10 mn. Manipulating accounts incurs a prison term of up to three years and/or a fine of up to QAR200,000.
Regulations in 2013 curbed investment options for local banks. Equities and bonds can account for up to 25% of a bank’s capital and reserves; debt issued by the government and national banks are exempt. There is also a limit on the amount placed with individual companies and unlisted securities: a maximum of 5% of capital and reserves for foreign investments and 10% domestically. Total foreign equities is capped at 15%.
The Qatar Renminbi Centre opened in 2015 and is the first in the region to offer Renminbi (RMB) clearing and settlement, increasing financial connectivity between China, Southwest Asia and the MENA region. The centre provides access to China’s onshore RMB and foreign exchange markets to local financial institutions – Chinese companies have become active partners in Qatar, and the RMB centre will facilitate trade via their agreement with QCB. qatarrmbcentre.com
Law No 20 of 2019 on combating money laundering and terrorism financing was issued in September 2019, replacing Law No 4 of 2010, with implementing regulations following in December. The law is in accordance with the latest standards adopted by major international organisations including Financial Action Task Force, highlighting Qatar’s regional role in setting standards in its legal and regulatory framework for combating money laundering and terrorism financing.
Noting the increasing growth and popularity of fintech, QCB has established the Fintech Regulatory Sandbox and launched Qatar FinTech Hub (QFTH) as a means of boosting financial innovation. The regulatory sandbox, co-founded by Qatar Development Bank, invites entities to safely live-trial their services in the digital payment services space. fintech.qa
QCB launched the National Fintech Strategy 2023 in March 2023 to ‘support and reinforce a diversified economy and investments in Qatar based on financial technology and technological innovation,’ according to the QCB Governor.
The new strategy has four pillars to boost Qatar’s economic growth:
• Establishing infrastructure eg advanced regulatory rules and electronic platforms to develop financial technology.
• Prioritising innovation and financial technology sector growth, especially Islamic financial technology and sustainable development, as well as insurance technology.
• Empowering companies and enhancing their performance by using financial technology solutions and making the State of Qatar a financial technology hub.
• Providing a smooth mechanism and support for the transition towards cash-less transactions.
This strategy will add to the number of initiatives already in place to support the fintech sector, such as electronic wallets, instant payments and transfers, and the first local prepaid electronic payment card (Himyan).
QCB has received a number of applications from fintech companies to offer ‘Buy Now Pay Later’ (BNPL) services. BNPL is a short term interest free credit facility, allowing the customer to split the transaction amount into instalments to be repaid over a maximum of 12 months.
The new BNPL regulations apply to any provider set up under the MoCI, QFC, QSTP or any other free zone authority/commercial licensing entity. QCB aims to regulate this increasingly popular e-commerce service, to establish a regulatory framework for emerging fintech companies and reinforce the country’s payment systems.
Qatar Credit Bureau
Bad loans have been reduced since the Bureau started operations in 2011. The centre cannot grant credit facilities to individuals nor impose restrictions on banks. Qatar Credit Bureau provides analytical data and supports banks’ use of advanced techniques in risk management, as well as support sustainable growth of credit in Qatar. It provides banks with information on customers’ total exposure in the market and the loans they hold, enabling banks to choose prospective customers. cb.gov.qa
The Launch of the Qatar Credit Bureau Electronic Application
The Qatar Credit Bureau has a new electronic application service, part of the bureau’s continuous efforts to develop the services it provides to the public. The app is in line with Qatar Vision 2030, which aims to advance the economic sector and continue its digital transformation, as well as efforts by the bureau to keep pace with the technological advances in Qatar’s financial and banking sector.
The app allows users, whether individuals or companies, to easily access credit reports and the approval system. Users can also file and follow up on complaints about the credit information contained in their credit reports. The app uses customer authentication features and secure electronic payment options to guarantee customer confidentiality and security. Additionally, only users registered with the Tawtheeq system can access the electronic services available. Users can register in the Tawtheeq system using their personal identification numbers. The app is available for iOS and Android, in Arabic and English.