Dr. Ahmad bin Abdul Karim Al-Kholifey, Governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) stressed: "The Kingdom is moving forward in developing its strategic plans in the financial sector with the aim of becoming a leading center for innovation in the financial technology sector, and a high growth rate has been achieved in digital payments operations in the kingdom's market by mid-2019 hitting 36.2%; exceeding the general goal of the Kingdom's 2030 vision which is 28%. "
Al-Kholifey says during his opening speech today in Riyadh for the Middle East Financial Technology and Payments Exhibition (MEFTEC) in its third edition in Riyadh and the sixteenth at the regional level: "We seek at SAMA to accomplish and enhance the digitization of financial services and move towards digital transformation in the sector in a manner consistent with the requirements and objectives of the Financial Sector Development Program, one of the Kingdom's Vision 2030 programs. We are committed to raising the level of diversity in the quality of services and solutions for all parties, in order to achieve the maximum benefit from unified infrastructure services.
He added: "SAMA has licensed for digital payment companies in the financial technology sector, and has granted the license to electronic wallets companies including STCPay, Halalah and BayanPay, as well as the payment services company Gidia. Thus, SAMA managed remarkably to exceed the objectives of the financial sector development program that set the goal of licensing three active local financial technology companies on the market before the end of 2020."
With regard to supporting new payments companies does not list under the umbrella of the experimental environment, SAMA has granted the initial approval for two electronic wallets NonPay and KarimPay, allowing the opportunity for such promising companies in the payments sector. This is in line with its effort in supporting companies with financial innovation and technology in the Digital payments field that support various sectors (transport, e-commerce, etc.).
In his speech, SAMA's governor discussed the most important results and accomplishments achieved in the digital payments system in the Saudi market. He indicated that SAMA managed to raise the percentage of digital payments during the past year 2019. Besides, Saudi Payments Company achieved success in implementing a quality performance strategy that raised the efficiency of financial operations for all Business sectors, while continuing to stimulate operations and record levels in the overall performance indicators of the national payments system, in partnership with final payment service providers in the sector.
Performance indicators results of the payments system showed a growth in the number of POS operations by 57% compared to 2018, to reach more than 1.6 billion electronic payment transactions, while the total value of operations reached an unprecedented record exceeding 287 billion riyals, with a growth rate of 24% compared to the same period for the year 2018. The governor pointed out that the number of transactions executed through NFC technology reached 918.5 million, with a growth rate of 442%. NFC technology via bank cards and smart mobile devices occupied 56.5% of all transactions. the total value of these transactions are 94 billion riyals, with a growth rate of 1431%. The number of transactions executed via smart mobile devices through points of sale amounted to 106.5 million, with a value of 9 billion riyals, representing 10% of the total value of the transactions executed via NFC of the same year.
SAMA's governor affirmed the legislative and supervisory role played by SAMA and its role in setting regulatory frameworks and stimulating policies and licenses for the work of all parties from service providers to beneficiaries and monitoring them to serve the goals for which they were found. SAMA has established a department to monitor the payment systems and companies to limit its role in developing Regulatory policies for payment service providers and products within this sector and granting licenses to companies in this area and supervising their work.
With the recent approval of the Council of Ministers on the establishment of the Saudi Payments Company, with the aim of driving the transformation of digital payments, where the company plays the role of operator and developer of the national infrastructure for the financial sector. This is also to help all service providers in a manner that includes a focus on the best services that are provided professionally and constructive competition. The payments system In the Kingdom have exprienced great development in the past few years. The Saudi Bank payment cards enjoy a high degree of acceptance through more than 400,000 points of sale. This motivated many consumers to shift towards e-commerce reaching 44 billion riyals. This comes further to the significant increase in using Internet. Therefore, we can now confidently move forward in strengthening digital payments that now represent the dominant trend in the business sector.
Saudi payments began to implement immediate payment systems in the Kingdom, as a technical platform to enhance digital interaction by facilitating banking operations between consumers and companies. This comes in line with one of the most important goals of Vision 2030, which focuses on transforming Saudi society into a society where there is less dependence on cash. In 2019, Saudi Payments launched the "Esaal" platform, which provides an integrated solution for all e-business invoices and payments and works as an electronic link between buyers and suppliers. We also launched a digital mobile payment service for all banks in the Kingdom, as well as the launch of a national "Takseem" platform to find additional local financing channels for the business sector, such as medium and small companies, whether from banks or others. The local scene of the payments sector is undergoing a comprehensive phase of change that requires everyone to join hands to reshape and renew the infrastructure of financial markets and institutions, to become a leading global model that meets consumers expectations and helps to generate new opportunities for this sector, in line with the position of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The MEFTEC conference and exhibition will be held at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Riyadh for two days, in cooperation with the National Payments System Mada and the SADAD payment system, bringing together prominent experts in the financial technology sector dealing with the trends of this sector and matters related to the payments market via phones and smart devices in the region. This includes the digital transformation in banking, the promotion of non-cash payments, artificial intelligence in the e-commerce sector, the impact of blockchain technology on the payments market, and the future of digital currencies.
The conference witnessed the honoring of a number of banks and companies that are actively interacting with the products of the Saudi Payments Company: Al Ahli Commercial Bank, Al Rajhi Bank, SABB Bank, Alinma Bank, Al Jazira Bank, The Saudi Investment Bank, Al Bilad Bank, Riyad Bank, in addition to honoring the Saudi Electricity and Murabaha companies. This honor comes in exchange for the distinction of these entities in their interaction with the services related to the national payment systems, Mada, Sadad and Esaal with respect to reaching their clients who benefit from them (individuals, commercial and governmental sectors) in line with the principle of heading towards a society where there is less dependence on cash.