After more than a month since the government had ordered a temporary shutdown of all in-person money exchange and transfer service offices in the country, exchange houses in Qatar are expecting a surge in transactions following the reopening of their branches on Tuesday.

However, the closure order, which took effect last March 26, helped in fast-tracking the shift towards the digitalisation of their operations to cater more to the needs of customers, according to industry experts.

Trust Exchange general manager KNS Das told Gulf Times on Tuesday that the increase in customer footfall would result in a surge in transactions, mostly among workers from different expatriate communities.

“We welcome the government’s decision to reopen our physical branches, especially during this period,” said Das, who also lauded the government, particularly the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) for putting in place stringent health and safety protocols to help curb the spread of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) as markets are gradually reopening.

According to Das, Trust Exchange is strictly implementing MoPH guidelines on social distancing, measurement of customer’s temperature, mandatory wearing of masks, and crowd control inside and outside the premises, among others.

Das also stressed that the reopening of physical branches is a “timely decision” because the holy month of Ramadan is a peak season for remittances and other money transfer services.

“Normally, the business during Ramadan is higher compared to other months, and since the government has decided to reopen exchange houses, we are expecting a bigger customer turnout in the branches. From Wednesday onwards, we are expecting more people to start utilising these facilities,” he explained.

Similarly, Qatar-Indonesia Business Council president Farhan al-Sayed noted that sending funds back home during the holy month of Ramadan and the Eid festivities is “very crucial for many Muslims and their families.”

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“This is a great step because it will help a lot of workers who had been struggling to transfer money back to their families, who are relying on remittances for their day-to-day living; and now that exchange houses had reopened their branches, they could also cater to those who are sending funds to charity-oriented organisations, which is also an advantage to their respective beneficiaries.

“The business community welcomes the opening of exchange houses as this is a sign that sectors across the market are gradually opening, and this means that business operations would slowly normalise but, of course, under stringent health precautions as stated by the Ministry of Public Health, al-Sayed pointed out.

He added: “Even though Ooredoo Money has been doing a great job, as well as other online remittance platforms and money transfer Apps, there are still workers in the country who have limited abilities to access these digital services, so this is a timely decision from the government.”

Das noted that during the temporary closure, Trust Exchange was able to ramp up its digitalisation efforts to continue offering their services. He said “several thousands” of customers had downloaded the Trust Money App during the closure period.

“It is part of the company’s efforts to move towards digitalisation, which had proved very vital during the pandemic. It also assures that customers would enjoy continuous services,” he said.

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