The Qatar Central Bank (QCB) is reportedly investigating the possibility of launching a digital currency and issuing digital bank licenses.
According to the head of the fintech section at QCB, Alanood Abdullah Al Muftah, the central bank is expected to set a direction for its future focus soon on a range of fintech verticals.
Al Muftah noted that QCB will also determine whether Qatar can establish a central bank digital currency (CBDC). She explained:
"Each central bank should study digital banks, considering their growing significance in the global market. We also see the direction of the market moving toward having a digital currency. However, it's still being studied whether we're having a digital currency or not."
While commenting on Qatar's regulatory sandbox, Al Muftah said that three firms in the payments sector are currently testing solutions with the central bank. She also stated that the QCB is considering other firms interested in utilizing the regulatory sandbox.
A regulatory sandbox is a space in which fintech firms can test new products, services, business models and delivery mechanisms in a real-world setting while benefiting from an accelerated authorization process and supervisory monitoring.
Private Qatari bank Dukhan Bank, meanwhile, is examining the possibility of creating a digital bank in Qatar, its chief operations and digital officer Narayanan Srinivasan told The Peninsula. However, Srinivasan warned that his institution would only build a digital bank after a better understanding of its economics. As per the report, Dukhan Bank is also considering blockchain technology in the payments sector.
Related: The Philippines to launch pilot CBDC implementation
Although private virtual currencies like Bitcoin (BTC) have grown in popularity and followers, government-backed CBDCs, frequently regarded as an antithesis to private cryptocurrencies, have been accelerating rapidly. According to data from the Atlantic Council, as of June 2019, 87 nations are currently developing their own digital currency, with only 14 having completed the pilot phase. Nine countries have already implemented a CBDC.