Legal Update: Qatar Central Bank Issues the Payment Services Regulations

Qatar Central Bank (“QCB”) has issued Circular No. 23 of 2021 pursuant to which it has issued the Payment Services Regulations (“Payment Services Regulations”). The Payment Services Regulations came into force on 15 September 2021.

For the first time, the QCB seeks to formally regulate and supervise payment service providers (“PSPs”) who provide any payment services in or from Qatar identified as such in the Payment Services Regulations.

Scope and Exemptions

Generally, the Payment Services Regulations apply to: (i) services that have a clear payments nexus and pose systemic risk to the Qatar financial system; (ii) service providers who process funds or provide merchant acquiring services; and (iii) service providers who contract or deal with the consumer or the merchant in respect of payment services. More specifically, the following services are considered regulated payment services for which prior authorisation is required from the QCB:

1. E-money issuance;

2. merchant acquiring services;

3. local fund transfer services; and

4. other regulated payment services such as the provision of a payment portal, the provision of settlement services to PSPs and owning or operating ATMs.

PSPs providing the above general or specific payment services in or from Qatar are required to obtain a relevant license from the QCB after satisfaction of the relevant requirements set out for such license in the Payment Services Regulations.

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