Qatar Payment Solutions in 2023
The payment solutions sector in Qatar is very dynamic. Almost 90 percent of small and medium enterprises accept debit and credit cards. The Qatar Central Bank (QCB) launched the “Qatar Mobile Payment System” (QMPS) in 2020 enabling the use of electronic wallets to further develop the country’s electronic payment environment, the Central Bank also unified standards for the use of a QR code that enables users to make payments by using QR codes on mobile phones at points of sale and public transportation. Due to Qatar’s high smartphone penetration rate and accelerated by the pandemic, banks have revamped mobile banking solutions. Currently, most banks in Qatar offer mobile banking services and apps.
In March 2023, the Qatar Central Bank (QCB) launched the National Fintech Strategy, to integrate digital innovations like blockchain, Islamic banking, insurance technology, and education technology. Cryptocurrencies remain banned under the new strategy. The QCB aims, through the new strategy, to serve as a regulator and an enabler to accommodate emerging fintech models. New and existing fintech services must apply for a license with the Central Bank to operate in the country, including Payment Services Providers (PSPs), “buy now pay later” (BNPL) and insurance price comparison websites.
Payment methods used in Qatar include debit and credit cards, bank transfers, money transfer companies, mobile applications. Contactless cards (tap), and the use of smartphones or smartwatches are widely popular with consumers, and accepted by the vast majority of merchants. Transactions up to $137 USD (500 Qatari riyals) do not require a Personal Identification Number (PIN) to be processed, and for most daily purchases consumers simply tap and go.
During the FIFA World Cup 2022, the market also saw innovations such as Pay with your Face, a payment solution that allows customers to authenticate payments just using facial biometrics -without physical cards or mobile devices. Merchants have also innovated offering checkout-free concepts that allow consumers to enter the store, pick out what they want, and walk out, with their card being charged automatically thanks to a variety of cameras, sensors, and contactless technology (similar to Amazon Go).
• It is recommended to explore any government incentives or programs aimed at promoting foreign investment in Qatar’s financial services sector. Qatar‘s strategic location in the Gulf region and its efforts to diversify its economy makes it an attractive market for financial services providers.
• Qatar has been making significant investments in its financial services sector including banking, fintech, and asset management.
U.S. solution providers in the financial services sector are encouraged to explore Qatar, the market provides many niche opportunities, fintech is being fostered, there are different incentives for startups and Qatar is eager for innovation.
CS Qatar can assist U.S. companies in finding partners in the local market, local financial institutions, and relevant players in the market. CS Qatar can help understand market potential, learn about opportunities, and explore business matchmaking, market research, and market penetration activities. Qatar will host the Web Summit Qatar in February 26-29, 2024.
For more information about the financial services sector in Qatar, please contact Commercial Assistant Juan Catril at Juan.Catril@trade.gov.