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SAMA to launch virtual riyal for banks

JEDDAH: The Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) will implement a pilot project to issue a virtual/digital currency that will be traded exclusively among banks to avoid any economic impact, SAMA Governor Ahmed Al-Khulaifi has revealed.
SAMA will also study the positive aspects of the practice and consider whether or not it will continue.
Al-Khulaifi ruled out any plan to issue a digital currency for trading between individuals and companies, adding that the Saudi banknotes currency will be dispensed with the coins.
Quoted by Al-Hayat daily, Al-Khulaifi said in a press conference at SAMA headquarters in Riyadh on Wednesday that "The Saudi Riyals banknotes currency will be dispensed and one Riyal category will be issued into coins instead in the next stage."
He also confirmed that SAMA "provided all equipment needed for the issuance and circulation of the Riyal coins as it will be available at the headquarters of the agency, its branches and the entire banking sector."
Al-Khulaifi was surprised by the decline experienced by the Saudi riyals in futures exchange. He said he sees no reason for that as he described liquidity in the banking system as good.
He pointed out that "private consumption expenditure exceeded trillion riyals last year, an increase of 5 percent compared to 2015, while government consumption expenditure amounted to SAR16 billion."
He also disclosed that the average per capita private consumption amounted to SAR33,000 last year.
He described SAMA's reserve assets as "still good, it amounted to SAR1.8 trillion in August. They cover more than 30 months of Saudi imports of goods and services and account for more than 70 percent of GDP."

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