Qatar Central Bank Issues First Digital Payments License

Qatar Central Bank

Qatar Central Bank (QCB) announced in a tweet Tuesday (Aug. 30) that it has issued the first license for digital payments to two companies that provide electronic payment services — iPay by Vodafone Qatar and Ooredoo Money.

The central bank stated that the license represented “an initial step to include all companies providing digital payment services under the supervision of the Qatar Central Bank to contribute to the development of the financial technology sector and enhance financial inclusion.”

As Qatar prepares to host the FIFA world cup this winter, the country is moving to enhance its digital payments infrastructure in anticipation of a surge in foreign visitors.

Last week, the country saw the launch of the Google Pay digital wallet. On the news, QCB tweeted that “all global digital wallet services for cards, such as Apple Pay and Samsung Pay, are now accepted in Qatar, enabling visitors especially during the world cup to process and complete their digital payments.”

As PYMNTS has reported, when it comes to financial services, the Qatari banking sector is relatively small compared to those found in other GCC countries like Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, even though it houses the Middle East’s largest financial institution by total assets owned, Qatar National Bank (QNB).

But although the sector is modest in size, it has proven to be a hotspot for innovation, helped along by the presence of international tech companies in the country.

Also read: PYMNTS GCC Series: Big Tech Firms Set Up Shop in Qatar 

In June this year, QNB became the country’s first bank to introduce its own open banking platform, leveraging an open API to allow both its customers and partners to access its core banking systems.

QNB’s open banking platform builds on earlier work with Ooredoo which allowed Ooredoo wallet holders to access banking facilities such as virtual IBAN, virtual MasterCard, payroll solutions and remittances.

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