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Qatar joins the CBDC race and issues a digital banking license

The central bank of Qatar plans to digitize most of its products, including research and potentially CBDC development and launch. One of the other directives from the organization concerns the issuance of digital banking licenses.

Qatar joins CBDC race

Speaking to The Peninsula at the 8th Doha Islamic Finance Conference, QCB’s Head of FinTech – Alanood Abdullah Al Muftah – outlined the new direction and digitization of the organization. The bank has already begun exploring various initiatives that will become more apparent over the next few months.

We are trying to research different aspects and verticals of fintech. We are trying to establish our direction. Every central bank should study digital banks, considering their growing importance in the global market.”

The executive went on to affirm the bank’s intention to go down the path of central bank digital currency, similar to many other central banks.

However, Al Muftah said QCB is still far from ready to launch such a product. Currently, the bank is still in research mode to determine whether and how a CBDC could impact the local currency landscape.

On the other hand, Narayanan Srinivasan, COO and Chief Digital Officer at Dukhan Bank also said in the same conference that his bank wants to set up a digital bank in Qatar. Additionally, they plan to use blockchain technology for certain payment services.

CBDCs around the world

Aside from China, which is a global leader in CBDC development with many reported field trials, countless other countries have followed that path over the past few years.

Jamaica’s central bank recently noted that it wants to release $16 worth of its CBDC to the first 100,000 citizens who set up wallets by April 1.

Canada’s central banking authority has partnered with MIT to research the pros and cons of such a product, while India expects its CBDC to launch by the end of 2022.

The United States really came last in the race. The country has taken an indecisive approach for years without clearly defining whether it should launch a CBDC. Most recently, the Federal Reserve also weighed in on the positives and negatives of central bank digital currencies.