Qatar Central Bank Updates
October 29, 2023
Michael Earley – Legal Manager
Ribal Fattal – Senior Associate
According to Law No. 13 of 2012, the Qatar Central Bank’s (“QCB”) mandate is to (i) maintain the value of the country’s currency and ensure monetary stability; (ii) act as a higher regulatory, control and supervisory body for all services, businesses, markets and financial activities in or through Qatar in accordance with the best international standards and practices; (iii) create a services, business, markets and financial activities sector that is based on the rules of the market based on stability, transparency, competitiveness and good governance; (iv) enhance public confidence in Qatar as a leading global hub for services, business, markets and financial activities; (v) ensure the orderly development of the financial services sector pursuant to the objectives of both the economic and overall development of Qatar. As part of its ongoing efforts to develop and modernise Qatar’s financial sector, the QCB has introduced several new initiatives and regulations, which are discussed in more detail below.
“Buy-Now-Pay-Later” Regulations Issued
The QCB has announced the issuance of the Buy-Now-Pay-Later (“BNPL”) Regulations (“BNPL Regulations”) which are published on the QCB website: http://www.qcb.gov.qa/Arabic/FinancialTechnology/Documents/QCB%20BNPL%20Regulation.pdf
The BNPL Regulations define the term BNPL as a short-term instalment-based credit product provided to customers (including Sharia-compliant BNPL offerings), either online or offline, for the purchase of goods or services, where the customer repays the transaction amount over a period of time to the lender (i.e., BNPL provider). The BNPL provider is a lender that undertakes the credit risk of a BNPL product or service.
The BNPL Regulations set out specific regulatory requirements to provide BNPL services which include, amongst other things, obtaining a license from the QCB prior to engaging in any BNPL-related activities.
The objectives of the BNPL Regulations are to ensure that customers are provided with adequate protections without unduly impacting the availability and cost of BNPL products and services, to protect the rights of BNPL customers from unfair lending practices, and to encourage the development of the consumer credit industry.
eKYC Identity Verification Instructions Issued
To ensure compliance with Qatar’s AML/CFT Law (Law No. 20 of 2019), the QCB has introduced its electronic know your customer (“eKYC”) instructions that apply to all of the entities it regulates. The goal of the eKYC instructions is to enhance transparency and security by providing financial institutions with the most modern tools to verify the identity of their customers and automate the identification process flow.
The instructions set out requirements relating to governance, KYC outsourcing, risk management, and client documentation. They also document the customer identification, registration, and verification processes, and the operational security considerations that must be met by eKYC programs and solutions. The eKYC instructions may be found here:
The QCB Begins Application Process For Insurance Policy Price Comparison Websites
In anticipation of the full implementation of the mandatory private health insurance programme for non-Qataris, the QCB has started receiving applications for the licensing of insurance policy price comparison websites. These websites are intended to provide customers with flexibility when deciding on which insurance policy to purchase by providing comparisons between different insurance policy features and prices in a transparent and unbiased way, saving time and effort in selecting the most appropriate and affordable insurance product in the market.
The insurance policy price comparison website regulations may be found here:
The QCB Introduces Loan-Based Crowdfunding Regulations
Pursuant to the QCB’s financial technology strategy, loan-based crowdfunding regulations (“LBC Regulations”) have been introduced to regulate such activities in Qatar. In loan-based crowdfunding, borrowers work with multiple investors or contributors instead of working with a single lender. The amount loaned is then repaid, plus interest, within a specified period. This type of funding enables investors to directly fund projects of interest, which in turn creates a connection between funders and their supported projects. Loan-based crowdfunding has become a popular funding alternative for SMEs.
According to the LBC Regulations, companies wishing to provide a platform for such funding must be properly licensed by the QCB. The LBC Regulations also regulate the operators and borrowers on such platforms, institute safeguards to protect investors on the platform, and safeguard the broader financial sector.
However, the LBC Regulations do not apply to all such crowdfunding activities. Specifically, the LBC Regulations do not apply to the following:
- Donation-based, reward-based, or equity-based crowdfunding;
- Crowdfunding activities that are not conducted on an electronic platform; and
- Crowdfunding activities that are agreed to directly between a fund-raiser and fund providers and that are not facilitated by an electronic platform.
Additionally, only entities that meet the definition of an SME are permitted to raise funds through the platform. The LBC Regulations may be found here: