Some 4.5mn cheques valued at QR345.6bn were processed in Qatar last year, Qatar Central Bank (QCB) data show.

During 2015, the total volume of cheques processed showed an increase of 3.71%, while the value of cheques processed increased by 3.54%, QCB said in its latest Financial Stability Review.

Even though the number of cheques in the low denomination (below QR250,000) category comprised 96.5% of total cheques processed, in value terms, it accounted for 26.8% of the total.

Cheques above QR1mn made up 58.2% of the total value of cheques, although their volume was only 1% of the total number processed.

“From this view-point, it was imperative for the banks to maintain adequate clearing account liquidity for the smooth processing of the high-value cheques without causing any delays/gridlock to the payment and settlement system,” QCB said.

According to QCB, the cheque clearing system processes cheques above QR250,000 on a real-time basis, whereas cheques below QR 250,000 are processed on a net basis by the end of the clearing day.

The real-time gross settlement system (RTGS) processed on an average around 1,320 SWIFT transactions and some 635 high value (above QR250,000) cheque transactions on a daily basis last year.

In case of Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) transactions, while the number of transactions grew by nearly 34% in 2015 as compared to the previous year; in value terms, the increase was only around 14%.

In contrast to SWIFT transactions, the increase in the number of cheque transactions was around 26.5%, but the value of cheque transactions increased by 23%.

The analysis of the volume and value of transactions through various modes illustrates that transactions via electronic means took precedence over the medium of cheques in the past year.

Further analysis of month-wise volume and value of transactions via SWIFT and cheques suggests that SWIFT transactions remained active across the months, reflective of robust interbank market activity as compared to cheque transactions.

The volume of SWIFT transactions on a daily average basis was almost double that of cheque transactions, whereas in value terms, SWIFT transactions were nearly 13 times that of the cheque transactions.

Qatar Central Bank said it strives to provide “safe, reliable and fast” electronic solutions for making a wide range of business and personal payments supported by flexible and cost-effective means for payment clearing and settlement systems to settle transactions smoothly and with finality.

Towards this goal of developing a sound “Financial market infrastructure”, QCB has been consistently bringing about significant improvements in the financial infrastructure of the country.

The payment and settlement system has been modernised, the governance system streamlined, the liquidity infrastructure upgraded and the regulatory infrastructure strengthened to meet the demands of a modern market economy, QCB noted.