With discussions on cryptocurrency ongoing at several Saudi government bodies, Bandar AlTunisi, Head of Development at Binance in Saudi Arabia, is looking forward to possible “high-level” regulation for digital currencies in the country this year.
AlTunisi said there had been growth over the past seven years: US blockchain analysis firm Chainalysis has reported that crypto transactions have grown 12% year-on-year to reach $31 billion in July 2023.
“It could be tomorrow, it could be in a month’s time, [but] once they’re ready, they will move quickly, which is what excites us about the Saudi market. I am hopeful about this year, but [it] is dependent on a lot of different factors,” he said.
Bader Al Kalooti, Head of Binance Middle East, Africa and Southern Asia (MEASA) and Turkey, said: “It is still very early. Relatively speaking, this is a nascent industry. The way these things tend to work, you will have disruptive technology roll out, then it takes a while to demonstrate that there is a product market fit, that people want this technology, then the regulations catch up.”
Dubai and Bahrain were early movers, he said, and other markets will catch up, although it will not happen overnight.
Bodies involved in studying potential crypto regulation include the Saudi Central Bank (SAMA), the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT), which will be involved from a blockchain point of view, and the Capital Markets Authority (CMA).
Saudi Arabia also launched the Financial Sector Development Programme in 2018, under which the development of cryptocurrency regulation could also fall.
The creation of such regulation would be followed by a period of understanding how the regulations will be applied, AlTunisi said.
Saudi is a priority market for crypto in general as well as Binance, he said.
“There is no other major exchange that has boots on the ground in Saudi in the way Binance does,” he said, adding: “Saudi is one of those places [where] once they move, they move big/. We really anticipate that there is going to be movement soon, and once they do, it is going to be a huge catalyst for growth in the industry.”
(Reporting by Imogen Lillywhite; editing by Seban Scaria)