Exchange houses in Qatar are expecting customer footfall to increase further amid the gradual easing of Covid-19 restrictions, as well as the observance of Eid al-Adha, according to officials.
According to Trust Exchange general manager K N S Das, the money exchange industry in Qatar faced several challenges as branches across the country were temporarily shut down because of the health crisis.
“As with other businesses here and abroad, one of the main challenges we faced because of the novel coronavirus was the restricted movement of people, especially at the onset of the health crisis when many governments had implemented their respective lockdowns,” Das told Gulf Times.
“Customer footfall was severely affected when exchange houses were closed as part of the government’s health and safety regulations, which was why we focused on digitisation and strengthened our online platforms,” he said.
Das said that “the industry is recovering” now from the impact of the pandemic. And, as the government started easing lockdown restrictions, business operations are “steadily going back to normal”, he added.
In May, the government lifted the temporary shutdown of all in-person money exchange and transfer service offices in the country. Since then, Das said the company has witnessed “a more than 50% increase in the volume of transactions”.
Al Zaman Exchange finance manager Santhosh Kesavan said the company addressed the challenges of the pandemic by focusing on its online platforms, which, he noted, played a significant role during the lockdown.
Aside from its mobile app and other online platforms, Kesavan emphasised that Al Zaman Exchange had forged a partnership with Ooredoo to allow customers to continue sending remittances back home.
Despite the lockdown, Kesavan said customers were able to send remittances via the Ooredoo Money service. In a statement released in March, Ooredoo said it “has seen a rise in the use of its Ooredoo Money service since the temporary closure of exchange houses, and a rise in the number of remittances being sent.”
“Because of our digital platforms, we were able to assist our customers. When exchange houses were allowed to reopen in May, we made sure that our branches are strictly complying with government regulations aimed at preventing the spread of Covid-19.
“Compared to last year, business had come down because of the health crisis; but compared to the months of April and May this year, the volume of transactions is expected to improve in the coming period,” Kesavan said.