QPay, Qatar's e-commerce payment gateway, has witnessed a "remarkable" more than four-fold jump in transactions in 2019 and the direct and credit debit system or Qatch remained a preferred option for recurring payments and other fund transfers, according to the Qatar Central Bank (QCB).

"The E-commerce transactions made through QPay registered an impressive growth with many fold increase in volume from 0.68mn in 2018 to 2.8mn in 2019," said the QCB’s financial stability report.

The “remarkable” expansion in E-commerce transactions has been attributed to the increasing number of outlets providing E-commerce; consumer preference for online shopping; secure transactions at E-commerce platforms, high internet and digital penetration and Qatar's efforts to promote E-commerce.

Qatch handled 7.2mn transactions in 2019 compared to less than half a million transactions processed in RTGS (real time gross settlement system).

In 2019, transactions under Qatch increased in both value (24.17%) and volume (10.64%) terms over the previous year.

"The growth in Qatch transactions is mostly driven by direct credit transactions such as salary payments," it said.

Broadly, the size of the payment systems in Qatar surpassed QR4.3tn in 2019 and volumes exceeded 135mn. In terms of transaction value, customer payments accounted for 48% of the total payments, central bank operations (32%) and other interbank payments (20%). In volume, as in the previous years, the customer payments accounted for more than 99% of the total payments.

Despite the global economic conditions, the activities in the payments and settlement system fared well with total volume of the customer and interbank payments growing 15.3% in 2019.

"The spurt in volume was driven by retail payments, most prominently by card payments indicating an increase in customer preference towards electronic payments," the QCB’s financial stability report said.

Qatar's payment system encompasses several wholesale and retail payment systems that handle the financial transactions in riyals, among the banks within Qatar.

The large value payment system, RTGS, handled 84.8% of customer and interbank payments in value terms, whereas the retail payment system NAPS handled 91% of the payments in volume.

While NAPS was extensively used for settling ATM/POS/E-commerce transactions, the Qatch "remained a preferred option for recurring payments and other fund transfers."

The transactions processed by RTGS decline in both value and volume by 3.26% and 11.72% respectively in 2019, mainly due to the migration of several small value recurring transactions from RTGS to the retail payments systems like Qatch.

"Qatar's payment system has been witnessing a steady migration to the electronic mode from paper-based instruments, a trend that is in sync with advanced economies," the report said.