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Qatar’s banking sector in strong position despite COVID-19 pandemic, says KPMG

Qatar’s banking sector in strong position despite COVID-19 pandemic, says KPMG

Satyendra Pathak
Doha
The standing of Qatar’s banks in the international market remains firm with the sector remaining in a strong position, KPMG Qatar has said in its latest report.
Despite the current challenges, KPMG said, Qatari banks continue to demonstrate resilience as evidenced by the positive first-quarter results and encouraging statements from rating agencies.
According to the second edition of their annual Qatar banking perspectives publication, banks in Qatar are investing heavily in technology and innovation as the global COVID-19 pandemic situation has signalled banks to accelerate their digital transformation agenda and embrace new Fintech strategies
Omar Mahmood, head of Financial Services for KPMG in the Middle East South Asia and partner at KPMG Qatar, said, “It remains to be seen whether banking will respond in a way that amplifies or dampens the acute economic challenge. However, from what we have seen in the past few months, banks in Qatar have been quick to respond to the crisis with proactive regulatory and state-level support.”
“The 2019-2020 financial year has been a challenging year for banks operating in Qatar. However, the overall impact is expected to be cushioned by the resilience and strength of the banking system. As of March 31, 2020, net profit attributable to shareholders registered a nominal decrease of 0.1 percent when compared with previous year’s net profit as a result of increased provisions, while total assets registered a growth of 1.8 percent to QR 1,654 billion when compared with results as of previous year,” the report said.
“Banks in Qatar have introduced several measures such as cost reduction initiatives, process rationalisation, enablement of digital channels and increased their focus on core banking activities which are proving quite effective when it comes to containing the impact of COVID-19 on their books,” it said.
If there was one clear post-COVID19 winner to be designated, the report said, it would certainly be the digital transformation agenda as it has thrived in the midst of the crisis and will seize the opportunity to disrupt the banking sector in the coming years.
Banks in Qatar are at the forefront of all businesses in terms of e-services that are essential during these times of COVID-19, the report said.
Even before the COVID-19 outbreak, the report said, 96 percent of businesses in Qatar ranked customer-centricity and enhanced experience as a business priority for 2020.
The banking sector is no exception to this trend as customer behaviours are rapidly shifting towards a need for more connectivity and self-service, device-agnostic digital channels.
In fact, the report said, nearly every major bank in Qatar offers an internet and mobile banking solution in addition to their existing ‘brick and mortar’ services.
“After COVID-19 response measures have been implemented by authorities, digital channels have seen a surge in the number of users, resulting in a higher number of transactions being performed through these new touchpoints,” the report said.
“Services such as mobile payment, credit card apps, online loan applications, and mobile money transfers are replacing physical interactions between the banks and their customers and rapidly raising digital banking adoption among Qatar’s population,” it said.

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