What kind of changes will new financial technology (Fintech) bring to the sector?
SHEIKH ABDULLAH: the government is actively promoting Qatar as a regional center for Fintech as new, cost-effective technologies are becoming increasingly prominent worldwide. Under the country’s second strategic plan for financial sector regulation 2017-22, Fintech has been recognized as a primary tool for achieving long–term development goals for the financial sector. This will require the right regulatory environment, competitive operating costs, government support, funding and a robust financial services sector. This is a strong momentum and new opportunities in Qatar to implement Fintech such as digital payments, money management, lending, remittances and investments.
Alongside benefits, these innovations will also create new regulatory and operational challenges. Regulatory obstacles will need to be addressed through creating cross-border synergies in areas like knowledge sharing, investments and remittances. To ensure the safety and security of the domestic banking system, the QCB prohibited trading in bitcoin in February 2018.
How is the QCB looking to maintain a stable and robust financial environment?
SHEIKH ABDULLAH: we have adopted a proactive approach to address local and regional economic challenges. Our objective as a central bank is to focus on exchange rates, prices and financial stability. Therefore, we formulate our policies based on evolving circumstances, implement various prudential requirements and focus on improving communication channels.
Additionally, we are continuing our efforts to strengthen the regulation and supervision of the sector in order to mitigate systemic risks. The QCB implanted International Financial Reporting Standard 9, with effect from January 1, 2018 after studying its impact on the capital rations of local banks. Domestic economic conditions improved significantly towards the end of 2017; the current account recorded growth, while trade surplus grew by 44.8% during 2017.
Meanwhile, the global economy continuous to improve and oil prices are recovering, which will result in a healthy fiscal balance. Given these favorable macroeconomic conditions, liquidity and funding structures in the sector have strengthened significantly and banks continue to report stable profitability. In 2007 capital adequacy ratios stood at around 16.8%, while non-performing loans were at 1.6%.higher capital adequacy levels and quality of assists indicate that the local banking sector is able to withstand severe stress scenarios. Banks were advised to develop contingency plans to meet emerging challenges and stress conditions in consultation with the QCB. Higher growth in domestic deposits and a surplus in primary liquidity reflects a return to normality for the banking sector, which is now well equipped to support the private sector small and medium –sized enterprise-and drive the economy towards self-efficiency.
What points should be considered regarding the creation of a centralized sharia committee?
SHEIKH ABDULLAH: the planned launch of a centralized sharia committee forms part of the border, global approach to developing the Islamic financial services industry.in establishing such a framework, some key objectives will need to be considered.
The committee should unify general sharia rules for each Islamic financial product to facilitate legal and regulatory supervision according to their legal structure and risk profile. This would help enhance the confidence and stability of the market as well as improving transparency, integrity and market computability among Islamic banks.
Additionally, the committee should implement general principles to regulate and control board activities and auditing functions at sharia-compliant banks.it should also facilitate arbitration and dispute settlements between Islamic banks and other stakeholders.