Qatar - Country Commercial Guide
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Qatar boasts one of the highest Internet penetration rates in the world, exceeding 95%.  A 2018 study conducted by Northwestern University in Qatar found that social media penetration was among the highest in the world, with 93% of Qatari nationals using WhatsApp, 70% using Instagram, and 64% using Snapchat.  As of November 2018, approximately two-thirds of the population is within the 15-44 age group and has a great interest in online shopping.  Before Covid-19, it was estimated that only about 14% of the population made online purchases; however, this has increased significantly since the onset of Covid-19, but no reliable statistics are available at this date. Fitch Solutions estimates that the e-commerce market in Qatar was worth close to $1.5 billion in 2019. In Qatar, 87% of small and medium enterprises accept credit cards, which are widely used in Qatar.

As Qatar continues to move towards a cashless economy before the World Cup 2022, the Qatar Central Bank (QCB) launched the “Qatar Mobile Payment System” (QMPS) enabling the use of electronic wallets to further develop the country’s electronic payment environment and access to a high-level national payment system. Qatar Central Bank also issued unified specifications and standards for the QR code that enables users to make payments by scanning the response code (QR Code) through mobile phones at points of sale and public transportation.  On September 30, QCB issued the Payment Services Regulation to license and regulate payment service providers (PSPs) in Qatar. Accelerated by the COVID-19 lockdown and given the country’s high smartphone penetration rate at 75%, banks have also revised their products and services for an increasingly mobile customer base. Currently, most banks in Qatar offer mobile banking services.

The country’s Electronic Commerce and Transactions Law was enacted in 2010, providing legislation in areas such as e-signatures, e-documents, and authentication. Qatar Central Bank is primarily responsible for regulating electronic banking activities and electronic financial transactions. The Government of Qatar is encouraging greater use of modern technology in government transactions and service delivery.  Since 2014, Qatar continues to implement its e-Government 2020 strategy, which aims to enhance people’s everyday lives through technology.  This includes providing e-Government services to individuals and businesses, as well as delivering administrative efficiency and increasing government openness.  Several government services and transactions are now possible through the Internet and the goal of putting 100% of key government services online.  The private sector, however, has taken slow steps in developing its B2B and B2C portals. E-commerce is expected to flourish given the government’s interest in enhancing this service throughout Qatar, as well as the necessity for alternatives to in-person shopping that Covid-19 presents. View information on eCommerce guidelines.

U.S. Export Assistance Centers across the United States offer U.S. companies a website globalization review (WGR) gap analysis to provide technical and strategic assessment of a businesses’ e-commerce sales channel efforts. It is a component of the digital strategy counseling available to Commercial Service clients. The WGR gap analysis also evaluates a business’ website from an international marketing and sales perspective.  Learn more about the WGR gap analysis and digital strategy development.