The use of digital platforms to send remittances is gaining more traction in Qatar’s expatriate communities, according to officials of Doha-based exchange houses.
Speaking to Gulf Times, Dr Zubair Abdulrahman, operations manager of Al Zaman Exchange, and Asraf Kallidumpil, operations manager at Al Jazeera Exchange, both agreed that exchange houses are now offering a wide range of advantages and benefits to their customers through digital platforms.
Online platforms and apps have been instrumental in the increase in the number of digital transactions for remittances being sent from Qatar, said Abdulrahman, who noted that Al Zaman Exchange recorded a 15% to 20% year-on-year (y-o-y) increase in digital transactions in the first half of 2023.
On the other hand, Kallidumpil, emphasised that the convenience being provided by Al Jazeera Exchange’s mobile app to its customers has been helpful in business operations.
“Through our mobile app, our customers can use their bank accounts or cash pick-up services to send remittances to their respective home countries in the GCC and other Arab, Asian, and African countries in the convenience of their homes or workplaces,” Kallidumpil explained.
“The mobile app, which offers special foreign exchange rates, also helps customers save time and effort to travel to physical branches where there would sometimes be long queues because of high customer footfall,” he also said.
Digital transactions “are very helpful,” said Abdulrahman, who explained that going online is not only convenient for the customer but also for the company’s overall business operations.
Abdulrahman further explained that digital transactions help increase efficiency in terms of digital marketing, by reducing operational costs, and minimising customer dependence on manpower in physical branches.
“The ease of using digital platforms is advantageous to our customers and in terms of operational costs, our app and website help maximise efficiency in the company’s operations, as well,” Abdulrahman emphasised.
Similarly, Kallidumpil noted that digital platforms are advantageous to companies because they are cost-efficient. “We are able to save on rent, utilities, and workers’ salaries, among other expenses, which is why we can allocate these savings onto special rates and promos in our mobile app,” he said.
Kallidumpil also explained that customer footfall at Al Jazeera Exchange branches varies depending on their location or area and customer demographics. He said customers living within Doha prefer to use digital platforms compared to those living in communities outside the city.
“Take for example the Industrial Area, which is mostly inhabited by labourers and workers, we have more customers visiting our physical branch because they prefer to transact business in person rather than using the mobile app.
“Some labourers are still apprehensive to use apps, but through our marketing campaign both online or in our physical branches, we are raising awareness on the advantages of using digital platforms like mobile app services,” Kallidumpil stressed.
According to Abdulrahman, Al Zaman will be increasing the number of its physical branches across the country to meet growing customer demand. Setting up more physical branches is helping us enrol more customers and to promote our digital marketing strategies in the local market, he said.
“If our customers, especially those who are outside Doha, face challenges in digital transactions, it would be easy for them to come to us if we have more physical branches to help them resolve any issue.
“We are offering higher exchange rates online because of savings in operational costs due to our digital platforms. We are passing these benefits to our customers, so this helps encourage our customers to go digital,” he said.
In the first half of 2023, Abdulrahman said Al Zaman Exchange has recorded a 10% to 15% increase in total remittance volume compared to the same period last year. During Ramadan and the Eid holidays, he said there was also a similar 10% to 15% increase in remittance volume. Also, holidaymakers and the vacation season helped push foreign exchange transactions, he added.
Kallidumpil said Al Jazeera Exchange’s remittance volume in H1 2023 was 12% to 15% higher y-o-y, adding that during Ramadan remittance volume was also higher by 10% y-o-y. He also said the vacation season and recent Eid holiday helped push foreign exchange transactions for the following currencies: Saudi riyal, US dollar, euro, Turkish lira, and Jordanian dinar, among others.
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