RIYADH The Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) announced on Thursday that the share of electronic payments in retail business exceeded 57% of the total transactions conducted in 2021, surpassing the 55% target set out by the Financial Sector Development Program (FSDP), one of the main programs of Saudi Vision 2030.

Fahad Almubarak, governor of the Saudi Central Bank, said that SAMA was working on promoting electronic infrastructure, expanding electronic payment activities and accelerating the electronic transformation of transactions.

He said this most recent achievement was driven by the Financial Sector Development Program and the implementation of the Bank's strategic plans for the payments sector, primarily aiming to reduce dependency on hard currency, and increase the rate of electronic payments to 70% by 2025.

Almubarak also noted that joint efforts between the government and private sectors to increase payment choices and implement many payment digitization initiatives together with private sector innovation and expansion initiatives as well as opening financial services to a new class of FinTech stakeholders in the Kingdom all played an instrumental role in making this achievement possible.

SAMA also noted that there were several jumps in the number and value of payments made through the National "mada" payment system during these past few years, with the number of transactions made through this system exceeding 5.1 billion transactions during 2021 at a growth rate of 81% compared to 76% recorded in 2020.

SAMA also observed a sizable increase in the number of PoS terminal numbers and commercial sector coverage. More than a million PoS terminals were deployed by the end of 2021 compared to 721,000 terminals deployed by the end of 2020.

Contactless Payments (NFC) methods also witnessed a tremendous increase in utilization as they accounted for 95% of all PoS transactions in 2021, alongside other electronic payment methods such as e-commerce payments, "SADAD" system payments and the new Instant Money Transfer through "Sarie" system, and others.

Additionally, corporate payments in the business sector have marked a significant increase in electronic payments, with 84% of the sector's total payment transactions being electronic in 2021, compared to just 51% in 2019, marking a 65% increase in electronic payment share during the past two years.

The results have also shown that major corporations rely on electronic payments to complete 99.6% of their transactions, while the same metric stood at 78% for SMEs transactions and 76% for those of micro enterprises.

SAMA stated that this achievement comes in support of the guidelines of the Kingdom's leadership, which aim to promote the electronic transformation of the Saudi economy, positively redirecting consumers to adopt electronic payments to conduct their transactions, recognizing its benefits in the facilitation of more convenient transactions, the reduction of the financial burden imposed on the national economy by cash payments, in addition to the reduction of operational costs imposed on most retail stores and shops, better record keeping and the increase of transparency in financial transactions. SG

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