According to Saudi Arabia’s Monetary Agency SAMA, the country is swiftly moving towards becoming a cashless society. 

Governor Ahmed Abdulkarim Alkholifey has publicly stated that the country intends on shifting the its payment infrastructure to becoming a completely electronic habitat through constant development, in order to reduce its dependence on cash. 

Speaking at the MEFTECH banking and payments conference in Riyadh, Dr Alkholifey said that one of the main targets of the Financial Sector Development Programme is for Saudi Arabia to become a completely cashless society. 

“Over the past two and a half decades, SAMA has embarked on a process of developing payment systems in the kingdom and enriching them with the latest technical technologies that contribute to the advancement of economic development in our country while ensuring the independence of these systems without being affected by political and international changes. We are proud to have handled over 2.3 billion transactions in the last year alone,” he said. 

Managing director of Saudi Payments Ziad Al Yousef also said, in a separate speech at the conference: “In 2018 payments in the kingdom have seen significant strides in moving towards digital payments as part of the transformation initiatives and in line with Saudi Payments 2021 Strategy to drive the growth of cashless society. During 2018, existing schemes processed more electronic payments than ever before, while new schemes initiatives have laid the foundation for new and innovative payments solution and services. Micro-payments have set the stage with Atheer based ‘micro-payments’ growth reflects consumer adoption of digital payments as part of their daily life which will set the stage for the next innovative payments.”

Mr Yousef also added that government ministries are going to lead the race in the implementation of digital payments, with the private sector following behind. 

“Saudi consumers are embracing online payments at a faster rate than ever before with a 40 per cent month-on-month growth and in line with the global growth rate of adoption. While bill payments are dominated by select sectors, plans are afoot to engage with non-bank payment service providers to widen the reach and bring more payments into the digital fold.”