Under the patronage of SAMA's Governor, Dr. Ahmed A. AlKholifey, the Future of Banking symposium was launched, which was organized by SAMA as part of its strategy and its regulatory and supervisory role over banks. The event was intended to predict the future of banking and financial services provided by local banks to better understand the current position and future challenges, areas and methods relating to the development of the business of commercial banks.
On this occasion, Dr. AlKholifey said that this event comes at an important time as SAMA is trying to explore future transformations in both the domestic and international banking industry, especially after the large expansion in the use of internet, telecommunications and e-commerce as well as the emergence of many new trends that will reduce the reliance on traditional business models of banking services. He stated that this requires us to strive to seize any opportunity resulting from such transformations in order to develop and improve the banking sector that enjoys high resilience and solvency that helped it overcome the repercussions of successive financial crises.
Dr. AlKholifey said that this event also comes at a time of an important transformation; the Saudi Vision 2030 includes clear national goals and programs for development and growth, and it promotes ICT infrastructure due to its nature as an enabler for building developed industrial activities, attracting investors and boosting competitiveness of the national economy. Digital transformation will also contribute to the development of ICT infrastructure. Thus, this event as well as the initiatives that SAMA always encourages are fully in harmony with the Saudi Vision 2030.
In addition, Dr. AlKholifey indicated that digital services provide easy and effective tools to improve financial inclusion in the Kingdom. The adoption of digital services domestically is high compared to global rates. The penetration of internet and smartphones is more than 70 percent, and the active use of social media in Saudi Arabia is also a strong indicator of the readiness of individuals for digital services.
Moreover, he said that since its roles, whether regulatory or supervisory, are part of the development of the banking sector, SAMA embarked on a number of programs that will enable the sector to elevate the standards of digital services and enhance operating models for that propose. SAMA's most important initiatives include: establishing the Innovation Center, which aims at facilitating the implementation of innovative ideas and developing their operating models; establishing the Regulatory Sandbox, which is a flexible regulatory framework set for piloting innovative services that might not be fully in line with applicable laws and regulations; and introducing Fintech Space, which is a program for reaching out to banking digital service startups, locally and abroad, to allow interactions between such startups and banks and enable access to innovative banking services by customers.
Dr. AlKholifey stressed that SAMA's work will be rewarding when it is received with a positive interaction from banks. Finally, he urged everyone to effectively participate in this gathering and take advantage of the introduced ideas and proposals that will hopefully be translated to real and practical actions in the banking sector in order to enhance financial stability and growth.