Qatar Central Bank (QCB) has completed the infrastructure for its central bank digital currency (CBDC) project and launched the first phase of a pilot project focused on the settlement of large payments between major local and international banks.

Qatar

Few details about the project have been released. The initiative will explore distributed ledger technology, artificial intelligence, liquidity, and transactions with securities, the state news agency reported. The experimental phase will last till October.

The QCB began studying CBDC technology in March 2022 and confirmed the launch of the project a year ago. At the Qatar Economic Forum in May, QCB Governor Sheikh Bandar bin Mohammed bin Saud Al Thani said, “We are in the foundation phase and evaluating the pros and cons of issuing a CBDC.”

Neighboring United Arab Emirates (UAE) is actively involved in CBDC projects. It was a founding member of the Mbridge project along with China, Hong Kong and Thailand, and has used Mbridge for remittance payments to India and wholesale transfers between project members. Additionally, the UAE participated in the CBDC proof-of-concept project Aber with Saudi Arabia, which ended in 2020.

Cryptocurrency Regulation in Qatar

The Qatar Financial Center Regulatory Authority banned virtual asset services in 2020. In 2023, the Financial Action Task Force criticized Qatar for not enforcing the ban and for its lack of understanding of the complex forms of money laundering and terrorist financing.

In March, rumors circulated that Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund had made a major investment in bitcoin, spurred by the observation of a new wallet with substantial BTC holdings.

Analysts noted a series of daily purchases of 100 BTC, totaling more than 50,000 BTC (worth more than $3.3 billion). Speculation abounds as to who is behind the acquisitions, dubbed “Mr. 100,” from Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund to secretive billionaires diversifying their portfolios or preparing ETF launches. There are suggestions up to the banks.

Speculation intensified after a tweet by Bitcoin advocate Max Kaiser, hinting at a possible $500 billion investment in Bitcoin by the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA). Keizer’s tweet ignited a social media frenzy, which contributed to BTC’s price surge. Skybridge Capital’s Anthony Scaramucci further fueled the speculation by confirming Kaiser’s claims, saying that Qatar has indeed added BTC to its balance sheet.





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