Saudi Payments, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA), has successfully highlighted the importance of the concept of electronic payment and popularized its use in society during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Saudi Payments, which is also the operator of national payment systems, has standardized and organized online payments, enabling more than 23 million Mada card holders to access e-commerce platforms during curfew.
In line with the precautionary measures to combat COVID-19, SAMA, in cooperation with Saudi Payments and local banks, raised the limit of purchases through bankcards that use NFC technology (Mada Atheer) on point-of-sale (POS) devices from SR100 ($26) to SR300 per purchase, in order to avoid contact with contaminated surfaces.
As a result of these developments, the number of Mada online purchases increased to 20.8 million during the first quarter of this year, while the total number of Mada services for purchases via POS devices increased to 543 million during the same period. Moreover, the first quarter of this year witnessed an increase in the volume of Mada purchases through POS devices by about 67 percent, compared to the same period in 2019. The Mada online purchases witnessed an increase of 406 percent, compared to the first quarter of 2019.
The percentage of purchases through NFC technology constituted 79 percent of all POS purchases performed during the first quarter, with an increase of 263 percent, compared to the same period last year, while May 2020 recorded an increase in the total value of online purchases to reach SR3.7 billion, representing 18.1 million transactions. The total value of Mada POS purchases increased during the same month to reach SR23.4 billion, representing 159.4 million transactions. The total number of Mada cards used to pay online increased in May 2020 to reach 5.4 million.
April 2020 recorded a remarkable increase in the total value of sales via the internet reaching SR3 billion, constituting 12.7 million transactions. The total value of POS Mada purchases decreased as a result of the total curfew imposed during the same month to reach SR16.1 billion, representing 121.8 million transactions. The total number of Mada cards used to pay online during April of 2020 increased to 3.6 million.
The Cabinet in November 2019 approved SAMA’s request to establish the Saudi Payments Company, responsible for operations and the development of infrastructure of national payment systems. The company aims to ensure that all payments and financial transactions processed in the Kingdom are safe and secure.