The national pillar of digital payments
Since its establishment in 2019, Saudi Payments has positioned the country as a global champion in digital payments and financial innovation
Between January and November 2022 digital financial transactions reached 7.7 billion in Saudi Arabia, while 96.5 percent of face-to-face transactions were contactless.
This rapid adoption of electronic finance is being driven by Saudi Payments, a subsidiary of the Saudi Central Bank (SAMA). “In line with Vision 2030’s Financial Sector Development Program, our main task is to enable the payment system to provide safe, reliable and innovative services that achieve interoperability between system participants and are easily accessed,” explains its managing director, Abdulaziz Al Afaleg.
Saudi Payments has developed four world-class digital platforms that are open to any entity licensed by SAMA, which has created a level playing field for incumbents and new operators. SADAD facilitates bill payments, Esal is an e-invoicing system, and mada connects ATMS and point-of-sale terminals to a central payment switch, while its online service has catalyzed remote shopping. “Saudi Arabia now ranks second in the Arab world for e-commerce,” notes Al Afaleg. The fourth platform, Sarie, allows banks to make and receive payments in riyals. “The fact that we are constantly developing our infrastructure is evident in 2021’s launch of a new 24/7 instant Sarie system. Since its launch, over 500 million transactions have been processed, with an average
“The fact that we are constantly developing our infrastructure is evident in 2021’s launch of a new 24/7 instant Sarie system.”
Abdulaziz Al Afaleg, Managing Director, Saudi Payments
monthly growth of 6 percent that is driven by demand for faster, safer, cheaper and trusted digital solutions. Sarie’s features include the ability of users to initiate transactions based on aliases including a mobile number, ID or email address, and both banks and fintech firms are supporting the introduction of additional solutions,” he reveals. Saudi Payments aims to empower fintech companies by developing infrastructure, building the capabilities businesses require and supporting entrepreneurs. It has also established a special innovation unit in collaboration with fintech and banking partners, Al Afaleg states: “The aim is to create products that leverage emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and open banking. We are also working on other technical aspects and will continue to encourage innovation to strengthen the financial sector.”