• Opening of Innovation Center in Visa’s largest GCC market continues investment in Saudi Arabia, supporting rapid digitization in commerce and global money movement

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: Visa (NYSE: V), the world's leader in digital payments, today announced plans to open a state-of-the art Innovation Center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia at the Future Investment Initiative. The facility, that will be operational by the end of 2023, is being built with the vision of becoming the Kingdom's innovation hub for next-generation payment solutions and experiences. It will be the latest addition to Visa’s expanding global innovation network.

The opening of a new world-class innovation facility in Visa’s GCC regional hub office continues Visa’s long-standing investment in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its joint efforts with local partners to advance digital commerce.  The Innovation Center will allow partners to access world-leading payment technologies to co-create local solutions that can be used in the Kingdom and exported around the world cementing Saudi Arabia’s role as a catalyst for innovation. 

The new creative space will feature virtual reality, biometrics and Internet-of-Things applications and will be staffed by Visa innovation and technology experts. The Center will include a specialist focus on developing innovations for governments, financial institutions, fintechs and businesses, that will span areas including data, loyalty, disbursements, remittances, business-to-business payments and more.

Speaking at the FII, Andrew Torre, Visa’s Regional President for the CEMEA region, said: "The rapid acceleration of digital payments has helped establish the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as a global leader in driving the future of commerce and money movement.  We are excited to be able to deepen our investment in Saudi Arabia with an Innovation Center that will help push the boundaries of innovation and creativity further. We look forward to working with partners to develop next generation solutions that will benefit individuals, businesses and governments in line with Saudi Vision 2030.”

H.E. Dr. Fahad Almubarak, Governor of the Saudi Central Bank said: “The ambitious plan of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to be among the top ten countries in the Global Competitiveness Index is one of the objectives of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. Visa’s announcement today is indicative of the conducive environment that Saudi Arabia provides the global business community. We are happy to see that companies like Visa are committed to our economic transformation agenda and to develop local Saudi talents. Saudi Arabia is moving towards achieving its goals to become a less-cash society having reached 57% cashless payment of all consumer payments in 2021. In the first half of 2022, payments executed using NFC technology by individuals exceeded 96% of total POS transactions.

As part of these continuous efforts, Saudi Arabia is focused on increasing public and private partnerships and keen on building an innovative talent pool that supports efforts in both; developing the local capabilities that can support the needs of our financial and government communities and exporting the best of our solutions globally. We’re confident these efforts will ultimately contribute to the successful implementation of our financial sector development initiatives and achieve global competitiveness to make Saudi Arabia a global fintech hub.”

H.E. Abdullah Al-Swaha, Minister of Communications and Information Technology, said: “Saudi Arabia as the largest digital economy in the region with more than $40B committed to empower youth and women, grow the digital economy and shape new frontiers fueled by digital and innovation. Visa’s Innovation Center is the type of investment we welcome, and we look forward to seeing Visa bring the best of their global technology and innovation expertise to accelerate the digital economy of the Saudi Arabia and MENA region.”

Visa’s global network of innovation centers were first formed in San Francisco in 2014 and have delivered hundreds of innovations being used around the world today.  Visa has previously used existing innovation hubs to design products for the Central Europe, Middle East and Africa region, including multi-currency products, facial payments, acceptance solutions for SMBs, and new pay on delivery solutions to enhance the eCommerce experience.

Recent highlights from Visa in Saudi Arabia

  • Visa has been leveraging the power of its network to promote financial inclusion and support Saudi Vision 2030 goals.  With some of the fastest digitization globally, eCommerce in Saudi Arabia has accelerated, more than 9 out of 10 face-to-face transactions are contactless, and the Kingdom is a leader in critical areas including fintech, smart cities and NFTs.
  • To help small businesses recover from the effects of the pandemic, Visa together with SAMA's Saudi Payments launched Tap to Phone - a low-cost mobile acceptance solution in the Kingdom. The new solution, currently operating through mada, Saudi Arabia's national payments network, enables merchants, particularly small and micro businesses (SMBs) in Saudi Arabia, to accept contactless payments via their smartphone devices using Near-Field-Communication (NFC) technology without having to invest in a separate physical device.
  • Recently, Visa in partnership with Al Rajhi Bank and Monshaat, launched She’s Next – Visa’s global advocacy program to economically empower local women entrepreneurs and small business owners in the Kingdom. Under this initiative, four women-owned Saudi businesses received a $10,000 grant and a year of business coaching from IFundWomen to help their businesses grow and expand, as well as media exposure and networking opportunities.
  • Earlier this year, Visa brought its global innovation program, Visa Everywhere Initiative (VEI), to the Kingdom for the first time. The initiative was open to local fintech and payment startups to showcase their innovative products and solutions, with finalists gaining firsthand exposure to key fintech stakeholders across banking, merchant, VC and government sectors. Winners of the competition were awarded monetary prizes and the opportunity to partner with Visa.


About Visa

Visa (NYSE: V) is a world leader in digital payments, facilitating transactions between consumers, merchants, financial institutions and government entities across more than 200 countries and territories. Our mission is to connect the world through the most innovative, convenient, reliable and secure payments network, enabling individuals, businesses and economies to thrive. We believe that economies that include everyone everywhere, uplift everyone everywhere and see access as foundational to the future of money movement. Learn more at About Visa, visamiddleeast.com/blog and @Visamiddleeast.

Media Contact
Jagruti Mistry (Visa)
asda’a bcw, Dubai, UAE
Dhanya Issac | Danaisha Gulabani
E-mail: Dhanya.Issac@bcw-global.com, Danaisha.Gulabani@bcw-global.com