Total assets at Qatar’s exchange houses stood at QR1.9bn at the end of 2018, Qatar Central Bank data has shown.

The growth in assets of exchange houses during 2018 was 4.6% on top of 21.6% in the previous year.

The increase in assets last year was mainly due to increase in cash balances, dues from money exchangers and branches and other assets, QCB said in its 10th Financial Stability Review.

Purchase of foreign currencies by the exchange houses recorded healthy growth during 2018 while the sale of foreign currencies by the exchange houses continued its downward trend, resulting in improved balance between the demand and supply of foreign currencies, QCB noted.

With improved balance, the exchange houses’ demand of foreign currencies (from the banks) is expected to ease. The decline in sale of foreign currencies may be due to lower remittances during the year.

According to World Bank’s Migration and Development Brief (April 2019), officially recorded global remittances during 2018 grew by 8.8% to $689bn.

Remittances to low and middle income countries rose to a new record level at $529bn in 2018, an increase of 9.5% over the previous record high of $483bn in 2017, QCB said.

The healthy growth in remittances is driven by stronger economy and employment situation in the US and rebound in outward flows from the GCC and Russia, QCB said.

The future growth of remittances is vulnerable to low prices, restrictive migration policies and an overall moderation of global growth.

During 2019, remittance flows to low- and middle-income countries is expected to grow further by 4% to reach $550bn.

The growth in income at exchange houses during 2018 was substantial while the increase in expenditure was modest reflecting better expenditure management by them. Consequently, their profits increased substantially during 2018, the review showed.