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Dr Ahmed Bin Abdulkarim Alkholifey

Governor of Sama opens Meftech

RIYADH, February 26, 2020

Meftech the leading banking, Fintech and payments conference and exhibition has been officially opened by Dr Ahmed Bin Abdulkarim Alkholifey, Governor of Sama at the Ritz Carlton, Riyadh. 
 
Presenting the keynote address, Ziad Al Yousef, Managing Director, Saudi Payments, highlighted the importance of the Fintech ecosystem in the kingdom and digital payment innovation.
 
The two-day conference and exhibition Meftech initiated, in collaboration with mada, the national payment network, and Sadad Payment brings together leading industry experts who will address industry trends and issues around mobile payments in the region, digital transformation in banking, driving cashless payments, artificial intelligence within the e-commerce industry, impact of blockchain on payments and the future of digital currencies.
 
Dr Alkholifey said: “It is my pleasure to welcome the attendees, speakers, participants and prominent experts in the field of financial technology from around the world. We convene again for the third year in a row in Saudi Arabia, as we inaugurate the 16th edition of the Middle East Financial Technology Exhibition and Conference (Meftech), which remains – with your presence – a global and scientific platform for exchanging expertise and showcasing experiences and ideas about electronic transactions, as well as an opportunity for exchanging the best global practices and experiences in this regard.”
 
 
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is devising its strategic plan in the financial and development sector with the goal of becoming a pioneering hub for innovation in the financial technology sector. The kingdom spares no effort in working to provide a suitable environment that motivates success, supported by top local and international partners. 
 
The Monetary Authority seeks to promote digitisation of financial services and advance digital transformation in the sector to meet the demands and goals of the financial sector development programme, which is one of the programmes of Saudi Vision 2030.
 
The kingdom is moving forward towards implementing our comprehensive programme for developing the financial technology sector. Strategies of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority has achieved success in promoting e-payment solutions. 2019 witnessed a remarkable increase in e-payment usage indicating a change in sentiment in the society towards this technology. 
 
At the same time, Saudi Payments was successful in applying a high-quality performance strategy that raised the efficiency of financial transactions in all business sectors, providing more flexibility for individuals’ experience via various transactions of e-payment, all while continuing to encourage these transactions and registering record levels in the overall indicators of the national payment system, with the partnership of all final payments services providers in the sector.
 
In mid-2019, the Saudi market saw remarkable growth in numbers of e-payment transactions, resulting in the increase of non-cash transactions to 36.2 per cent, exceeding the general goal of the Saudi Vision 2030 which is 28 per cent, he said.
 
The payments system performance at the end of 2019 showed growth in the number of transactions by retail points by 57 per cent compared to the previous year, reaching more than 1.6 billion e-payment transactions, while the overall value of transactions reached an unprecedented record level, exceeding SR287 billion, with a growth rate of 24 per cent compared to the same period in 2018.
 
The number of transactions carried out via near-field communication (NFC) technology reached 918.5 million transactions at a growth rate of 442 per cent, with NFC technology via bank cards and smartphones making up 56.5 per cent of the overall transactions carried out via retail point devices, and these transactions amounted to SR94 billion with a growth rate of 1431 per cent.
 
The number of transactions carried out via smartphones at retail points reached 106.5 transactions at a value of SR9 billion, making up 10 per cent of overall transactions carried out via NFC in that year, he said.
 
The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority is a legislative and regulatory body that devises regulatory frameworks and policies, as well as licensing service provides and beneficiaries and coordinating the work of all stakeholders to fulfill its mandate. “We are committed to promoting diversity in the quality of services and solutions for all parties in a manner that achieves optimal use of the unified infrastructure services, in line with the goals of the financial sector development programme.” 
 
The Cabinet’s approval of establishing the Saudi Payments company by the Authority aimed at promoting the transitioning to e-payment and reducing cash transactions, acting as the operator and developer of the national infrastructure of the financial sector, and helping service provides in a manner that ensures focusing on the best services with professionalism and enabling the systems to provide secure and trusted basic services that achieve compatibility by providing a joint infrastructure, ensuring competitiveness among the providers of final payment services to end users, as per the goals of the financial sector development programme.
 
In order to enhance its legislative and organisational role in this vital sector, the Authority established a department for overseeing the payment systems and companies. The department oversees regulations and policies that regulate the work of payment services providers and the products of this sector, as well as issuing the necessary licences for companies in this field and supervising them. 
 
After that, the company issued the regulations for payment services providers, considering during the drafting of these regulations the best international practices in payments, in addition to surveying public opinions and holding workshops in cooperation with the relevant authorities. 
These steps are based on the Authority’s role that supports enabling innovation and empowering active sides in the field of financial technologies to provide services by setting a multi-tiered licensing framework for the various types of payment services providers, based on scale, activities, and services provided, taking into account their inherent risk portfolios; there will be separate licences for the companies of e-wallets, digital currencies, electronic money institutions, and payment institutions. 
 
The licensing categories are divided into micro companies and macro companies, based on the size of these companies, in order to encourage innovation, and develop new businesses.
 
The Authority launched licensing for digital payment companies in the financial technology sector; last year it licensed the STCPay e-wallets company, and Geidia payment services company, and two e-wallets companies, HallaH and BayanPay were licensed. With that, the Monetary Authority has overshot the goals of the financial sector development programme which had set the goal of licensing three local financial technologies companies that are active in the market by the end of 2020.
 
As for supporting new payments companies that are not in the trial environment, the Authority have preliminary approval to two e-wallets companies, Noon Pay and Careem Pay, providing an opportunity for such promising companies in the payments sector, as part  of the endeavors of supporting companies with innovations and financial technologies in e-payments that would help all sectors, including transport, e-commerce, etc.
 
As for supporting new payments companies that are not in the trial environment, the Authority have preliminary approval to two e-wallets companies, Noon Pay and Careem Pay, providing an opportunity for such promising companies in the payments sector, as part of the endeavours of supporting companies with innovations and financial technologies in e-payments that would help all sectors, including transport, e-commerce, etc.
 
Continuing with this methodology, the Authority gives considerable attention to continuing investment in this sector to enhance its growth and development by providing a solid national infrastructure for the financial sector by working on the programme for developing the instant payments system, which mainly bolsters economic development by increasing the efficiency of financial transactions among all sides in the companies and retail sector, allowing banking establishments and financial technology companies to provide innovative services that meet the needs and aspirations of clients, in addition to playing a role in enabling services that improve efficiency such as services for fraud risk management and combating money laundering, in addition to improving existing banking products, and managing monetary flow for the business sector.
 
In the long term, the impact of the instant payments system will reflect positively on expediting digital transactions and offering more innovation in the services provided by the sector to clients, individuals and companies alike.
 
“In conclusion, the instant payments system is one of several projects supervised by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority as an important step in the financial sector development programme for achieving the goals of the Saudi Vision 2030,” he said.
 
The conference witnessed the honouring of a number of banks and companies interacting the most with the products of the Saudi Payments Company: Al Ahli Commercial Bank, Al Rajhi Bank,
SABB Bank, Development Bank, Aljazira Bank, The Saudi Investment Bank, Bank Albilad, Riyad Bank, in addition to honoring the Saudi Electricity and Murabaha companies. 
 
This honour comes in return for the distinction of these entities in their interaction with the services related to the national payment systems, the extent, payment and delivery of their delivery to 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.-- Tradearabia News Service
 
 



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