RIYADH: Online payments in the Kingdom jumped by more than 400 percent in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the same period last year, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported — an indication of a significant shift toward online shopping in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.
The number of online payments reached 7.3 million, valued at SR1.79 billion ($475.81 million).
More than 2.7 million Mada cards were used for online payments in March — a 15 percent increase from February.
The number of payment transactions using point of sale (POS) machines increased in the first quarter by 67 percent year-on-year, reaching 543 million.
“The measures taken by the government — whether in health, economics or banking, especially encouraging electronic payments — have definitely helped in reducing the negative impact of coronavirus on the country and its people, including businesses,” economist and financial analyst Talat Hafiz told Arab News.
The trend of increased online shopping will continue even after the crisis ends, he said. More than 60 percent of Saudis are under 30 years old, “which means that society is more geared toward electronic dealings in general and electronic banking specifically,” he added.
Last month, the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) instructed banks to enable customers to increase their purchase limits through POS reliable channels from SR100 to SR300.
SAMA also instructed that all money transfers be made in riyals between banks operating in the Kingdom via the Saudi Arabian Riyal Interbank Express (SARIE) system free of charge.