Qatar Central Bank Prepares to Launch Digital Currency

Qatar Central Bank revealed today, Sunday, that it has completed developing the necessary infrastructure to launch its own digital currency, and is prepared to test the currency in the realm of high-value payments with a group of local and international banks, while the bank studies other applications and use cases for digital currencies.

Qatar Central Bank’s announcement came days after launching its “Express Sandbox” project, which aims to regulate and license local and international fintech institutions, so they can rapidly launch their products and solutions in the Qatari market.

Qatar Central Bank’s recent moves align with Qatar’s third strategy for the financial sector, which aims to develop four main sectors: banking, insurance, digital finance, and capital markets, by focusing on themes of governance, legal compliance, Islamic finance, digital innovation, sustainability, capacity building, and talent development.

Qatar is the second Arab country to reach the experimentation stage in its central bank digital currency (CBDC) program, after the UAE launched the digital dirham months ago through a cross-border transfer on the mBridge network, which currently connects the central banks of the UAE, China, Hong Kong, and Thailand. The transfer was worth 50 million Emirati dirhams sent to China.

A 2022 study by the Bank for International Settlements showed that 90% of central banks around the world are exploring the potential issuance of central bank digital currencies. According to the Atlantic Council website, 11 countries have issued CBDCs to date, 21 countries are in the pilot stage, 33 countries are in the development stage, and 46 countries are in the research stage.

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