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Gulf Payments Company (GPC) launches “AFAQ”


Gulf Payments Company (GPC) has successfully launched the first phase of “AFAQ” payment system. The first financial transactions were exchanged through AFAQ between the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) and the Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) on Thursday, December 10, 2020. The central banks of the remaining Gulf states will be onboarded to AFAQ soon according to the agreed schedule.

AFAQ offers many features, mainly in terms of accelerating cross-border transfers across the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) through the use of the Real-time Gross Settlement (RTGS) service, thus completing transactions within moments, at a cost-efficient rate. Additionally, it provides a highly secure ecosystem shielded against cyber and information security risks by incorporating modern innovations while reducing reliance on external financial systems and networks.

AFAQ is part of a regional infrastructure that GPC has developed to underpin inter-GCC payment systems through enabling RTGS transfers among the central banks of the member states. The system supports dealing in the local currencies of GCC members and facilitates clearing and financial settlements while reinforcing the requirements for better financial markets integration. Through guaranteeing secure, quick, and standardized transactions, the system contributes to enhancing financial stability across the GCC.

GPC is a closed joint-stock company, established, owned, and financed by the central banks of the GCC states, pursuant to the GCC Supreme Council’s decision in December 2016 (37th session). The company has been mandated to to build and operate RTGS services for payments between the GCC for the purpose of executing financial transactions transfers between central and commercial banks and their customers, offering and developing various services to improve Gulf payments systems, and devising appropriate strategies to avoid financial risks, in line with international best practices.