Fintech Saudi and The Kingdom's Wider Developments in the Sector by Richie Santosdiaz for The Fintech Times
Fintech Middle East & Africa

Fintech Saudi and The Kingdom’s Wider Developments in the Sector

Fintech Saudi is an initiative launched by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) in partnership with the Capital Markets Authority (CMA) to support the development of the Fintech Industry in Saudi Arabia. Fintech Saudi’s ambition is to transform Saudi Arabia into an innovative fintech hub with a thriving and responsible fintech ecosystem.

With fintech continuing to accelerate across the globe, Fintech Saudi has said that they are seeing the
emergence of a growing fintech industry in Saudi Arabia. Fintech Saudi has just launched their annual report. In the Fintech Saudi Annual Report 2019 / 20, which provides an overview of the development of the
fintech industry in Saudi Arabia over the last year, Fintech Saudi highlights a number of key developments that have taken place to support the growth of the fintech industry.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the largest economy in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region and, with its population of over 35 million people, is undergoing a massive economic development and diversification reform known as Saudi Vision 2030. Fintech is playing a part in diversifying the current offering in the Kingdom as well as wider digitalisation.

Fintech Saudi began in April 2018, part of the wider Saudi Vision 2030, acts as a catalyst for the development of the financial service technology / fintech industry
Part of the wider Saudi Vision 2030, Fintech Saudi began in April 2018 and acts as a catalyst for the development of the financial service technology / fintech industry IMAGE SOURCE PROVIDED

Within Saudi Vision 2030, in 2017, the Council of Economic and Development Affairs (CEDA) initially launched ten delivery programs to realize Vision 2030; one of those is the Financial Sector Development Program (FSDP). In April 2018 under the FSDP, Fintech Saudi was born, acting as a catalyst for the development of the financial service technology / fintech industry.

According to Nejoud Almulaik, the Director of Fintech Saudi, “2019 / 2020 has been a pivotal period for the fintech industry in Saudi Arabia. Despite the challenges of COVID-19, we have seen progression in regulations, infrastructure and an increasing number of investment rounds in fintech companies, which have built a solid foundation to support the emergence of a growing fintech industry in Saudi Arabia that will contribute in a meaningful way to Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030.”

Over the last year there have been a number of key developments in fintech in Saudi Arabia with the launch
of Apple Pay, the establishment of Saudi Payments and the continued issuance of regulatory testing
licenses and regulations by SAMA and CMA to support fintech activities. Within the community there have
also been a number of major initiatives including the NCB / Monsha’at fintech accelerator program and the
launch of Riyad Bank’s fintech fund.

The collective impact of these developments are contributing to the growth of an emerging fintech industry.
The number of operating fintechs has increased 3 fold in a year from 20 in 2019 to 60 this year, with over
100 fintech startups at the idea or pre-commercial stage. There have also been 12 fundraising deals
completed in Saudi fintechs for the year to date with the total investment amount already surpassing 2019
levels. This is building up to a fintech market in Saudi Arabia that, according to Statista, is expected to reach
transaction values of over $33 billion USD by 2023.

Fintech Saudi in particular has supported the development of the fintech industry through initiatives
including the Fintech Ecosystem Directory and the Fintech Jobs Portal to support fintech companies, the
Fintech Regulatory Assessment Tool to provide greater regulation clarity and the Fintech Data & Research
Initiative to support data driven innovation in fintech.

The Fintech Saudi Annual Report consists of a number of sections including an overview of the fintech
industry by KPMG, the view from fintechs from MAGNiTT and interviews with the SAMA Regulatory
Sandbox and the CMA FinTech Lab. The Annual Report is available and can be downloaded here.

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