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Qatar to grant licences to GCC banks

Qatar's central bank will allow banks from Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries to open branches in the state. 11 Sep 2015

The bank's proposal was approved at a meeting of Qatar's Supreme Council for Economic Affairs and Investment, the state-run Qatar News Agency (QNA) said.

Licenses for the new banks will be given according to criteria set by the central bank, QNA said. These criteria have not yet been made public.

Doha-based finance expert Roger Phillips of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind said: "Opportunities will take time to develop. I don't see this being a big opportunity for GCC banks to jump into Qatar any time within the next three years; National Bank of Abu Dhabi opened a branch about a year ago but there's still no serious presence felt."

The Qatari banking system’s net domestic credit grew 32.1% to QR567 billion ($155 billion) in July 2015, from QR430 billion a year ago, Customs News said.

The Qatar Central Bank’s latest data on the country’s banking sector indicates the commercial banks’ total domestic credit rose 13.4%to QR619bn while the banks’ private sector credit grew 27% to QR402bn. Commercial banks’ private sector deposits increased by 12.5% to QR349bn.

Qatari banks have recently been preparing for a new online wage payment system for low income workers. Under the law, over 50,000 private companies will have to begin paying wages through banks. Banks have been asked to open accounts for all workers who are to be paid through WPS, no matter how low their salary. Workers should be able to withdraw money fee of charge up to five times a month.

The launch of the system was postponed last month as many employers were not ready to comply.

Banking industry sources told Al Sharq, the Arabic version of the Peninsula, that banks were ready for the change, with both administrative and technical preparations in place.