Update Regarding Virtual Assets and Cryptocurrencies in Qatar
September 26, 2022
By: Ribal Fattal – Senior Associate.
Qatar Central Bank (“QCB”) issued a statement warning against dealing with unlicensed financial institutions and service providers. The warning came in response to several news outlets publishing articles stating that a new crypto-exchange platform was operating in Qatar, and that Qatari citizens and residents could link their Qatari bank accounts to the exchange for the purposes of buying and selling cryptocurrencies.
The news appeared to contradict previous statements by QCB and Qatar Financial Centre Regulatory Authority to the effect that trading in virtual assets and cryptocurrencies is prohibited. In its statement, QCB said that it was aware of advertisements being spread from time to time on various social media platforms by unlicensed financial institutions and service providers to promote their unlicensed activities. The statement further explained that QCB is the only regulatory and supervisory authority authorised to issue licenses for the provision of any financial services in the State of Qatar under the provisions of the QCB Law (Law No. 13 of 2012).
QCB’s statement also clarified that due to the high risks associated with virtual assets, including risks relating to money laundering and terrorist financing, there are no financial institutions licensed by QCB to provide exchanging, transferring, trading or dealing services for virtual assets and cryptocurrencies.
Finally, QCB confirmed that it would take legal measures against any unlicensed service providers dealing in virtual assets in the State of Qatar, and that customers’ Qatari bank accounts may not be used for such transactions. Accordingly, despite the news reports, QCB’s position remains unchanged, meaning that dealing in virtual assets and cryptocurrencies remains prohibited in Qatar.