Riyadh labeled a top fintech ecosystem to watch by 2020 report

Riyadh labeled a top fintech ecosystem to watch by 2020 report
The report pointed out that the Kingdom has seen strong support for saudi-based logistics firms, which received 65 percent of all startup funding in 2020. (Shutterstock)
Short Url
Updated 21 December 2020

Riyadh labeled a top fintech ecosystem to watch by 2020 report

Riyadh labeled a top fintech ecosystem to watch by 2020 report
  • Saudi capital lauded for its support of fintech startups, despite pandemic

RIYADH: In its 2020 global report, research organization Startup Genome named Riyadh as one of the top 20 cities to watch for its achievements in financial technology (fintech).

The firm analyzed dozens of countries across the globe based on factors including funding, exits, talent and focus, as well as the impact of ecosystem players such as policymakers and founders.

Bahrain and Riyadh were the only two locations in the Gulf Cooperation Council to be included in the report. The top five fintech locations globally were named as Silicone Valley, New York, London, Singapore and Beijing.

The report highlighted some factors as to why the Saudi capital enjoys a strong fintech ecosystem and is one of the top cities to watch within the sector.

It pointed out that the Kingdom has seen strong support for Saudi-based logistics firms, which received 65 percent of all startup funding in 2020. Educational technology is also a growing sector, accounting for 11 percent of funding, as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic emphasized the need for distance-learning platforms.

Within the fintech environment there is healthy demand, with the report pointing out that, since 2019, there has been a 352 percent increase in smartphone payment transactions and a threefold increase in the number of fintech startups setting up in the Kingdom.

One of the most important factors is government support, with the report highlighting the fact that international entrepreneurs can obtain an entrepreneurship license, with 100 percent ownership of their company, in under three hours. The Saudi Ministry of Investment has issued 350 such licenses in 2020.

The proliferation of venture capitalists in the Kingdom, with 15 licensed by the ministry to set up offices in Saudi, along with organizations such as Saudi Arabia’s Venture Capital and Private Equity Association and the General Authority for Small and Medium Enterprises “Monshaat,” have helped to nurture the development of the community.

The development of the fintech community in Saudi Arabia is a reflection of the growing diversification of the economy, which is a core goal of the government’s Vision 2030 strategy.

Tariq Javed, CEO of Carlyle Square Consultancy, said the Kingdom has benefited significantly from fintech during the last few years and its importance has significantly increased since the outbreak of the pandemic.

“The government and the regulators, including the Saudi Central Bank, the Capital Markets Authority and Fintech Saudi, have been investing significantly to promote fintech in the economy and the financial sector under Vision 2030. A number of events have been organized to promote awareness around fintech. For example, the central bank, under the G20 presidency this year, sponsored a Tech Sprint initiative in collaboration with Banks for International Settlements,” he said.

He added that the rise of fintech will have many benefits, such as efficiency and cost reduction, improvements to customer service and an increase in Saudization.

Javed believes fintech opportunities are available in almost all sectors of the economy, from transportation to entertainment and from healthcare to finance. The most obvious benefits are for the banking sector, with the technology providing solutions for capital and liquidity adequacy documents; staff productivity and efficiency; real-time anti-money laundering; cybersecurity and taxation; financial stress-testing tools; 24/7 compliance; faster digital faster payments; and enhanced cloud computing and cybersecurity.

He said the benefits also varied from sector to sector. In the health sector, the positive moves include the development of tools to enhance digital interaction with experienced doctors, online booking platforms for appointments, improved medical record facilities and the use of artificial intelligence to preempt diseases.

Haitham Bu-Aisha, a founding partner at Vision Ventures Capital, believes Riyadh will easily rise up in the rankings in future reports. “I believe involving blockchain in the process of coding financial instruments would help advance the achievements and performances of the financial sector. Banks and traditional financial institutions need to be more lean and agile in order to cope up with the flow,” he said.


Customer demand for quick delivery is huge challenge for retailers, warns CEOs

Customer demand for quick delivery is huge challenge for retailers, warns CEOs
Updated 14 sec ago

Customer demand for quick delivery is huge challenge for retailers, warns CEOs

Customer demand for quick delivery is huge challenge for retailers, warns CEOs

Customer demand for fast delivery of products is one of the biggest challenges facing companies today, according to retail group leaders.

Speaking at the Future Investment Initiative Forum in Riyadh, heads of major firms set out how pandemic-caused changes in shopping behavior, together with developments in technology, has shifted expectations from consumers.

Yusuf Ali, chairman of Abu Dhabi-based Lulu Group International, told delegates that e-commerce was not growing in the Gulf region before Covid-19 swept the globe, but now the picture is different and his company “will increase e-commerce platforms”. 

John Hadden, CEO of Alshaya Group, headquartered in Kuwait, highlighted food and beverage deliveries as an area changed by the pandemic.

“The new challenge is how to get the right products to the consumers as quickly as possible,” he said.

The head of online marketplace Noon.com warned that customers now expect small grocery deliveries within 20 minutes, adding: “Buyers’ desire to get orders quickly is increasing and this is the challenge for companies.”


Winning technical advice bidder for Saudi nuclear power program to be named soon: CNBC Arabia

Winning technical advice bidder for Saudi nuclear power program to be named soon: CNBC Arabia
Nuclear power plant Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany. Getty Images
Updated 24 min 46 sec ago

Winning technical advice bidder for Saudi nuclear power program to be named soon: CNBC Arabia

Winning technical advice bidder for Saudi nuclear power program to be named soon: CNBC Arabia
  • EY may be the closest to winning the deal after offering the lowest price among advanced companies

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is about to determine the winner of the presentation of the technical advice bid for its first nuclear power program, Banking sources told CNBC Arabia.

King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy, the government agency responsible for implementing the Saudi nuclear program, has been studying the offers from four bidders, Deloitte, EY, HSBC, and PwC.

EY may be the closest to winning the deal after offering the lowest price among advanced companies, sources added.

Saudi Arabia intends to become a leader in renewable energy by building 16 nuclear reactors by 2030, estimated to cost more than $100 billion with a combined capacity of 22GW.


FII: MISA says investment in jobs and supply chains secure pandemic growth

FII: MISA says investment in jobs and supply chains secure pandemic growth
Getty Images
Updated 38 min 5 sec ago

FII: MISA says investment in jobs and supply chains secure pandemic growth

FII: MISA says investment in jobs and supply chains secure pandemic growth
  • Last month, the Kingdom forecast economic growth of 2.6% this year and 7.5% in 2022


RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Investment Khalid Al-Falih said the Kingdom put maintaining jobs and securing supply chains as one of its top priorities during the height of the pandemic, reported Argaam.

Speaking at the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh he added that the Kingdom’s economy was able to remain flexible and grow as the health crisis eased.

The Minister said: “The pandemic came as a shock to the business enterprise sector; it taught us different lessons in various fields.”

Last month, the Kingdom forecast economic growth of 2.6% this year and 7.5% in 2022, in a pre-Budget statement, after a 4.1% contraction in 2020.


UPS Q3 earnings beat estimates as revenue grows 9%

UPS Q3 earnings beat estimates as revenue grows 9%
Getty Images
Updated 26 October 2021

UPS Q3 earnings beat estimates as revenue grows 9%

UPS Q3 earnings beat estimates as revenue grows 9%
  • The results exceeded Wall Street expectations

United Parcel Service Inc. on Tuesday reported third-quarter profit of $2.33 billion.


On a per-share basis, the Atlanta-based company said it had profit of $2.65. Earnings, adjusted for non-recurring costs, were $2.71 per share.


The results exceeded Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of eight analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of $2.52 per share.


The package delivery service posted revenue of $23.18 billion in the period, which also beat Street forecasts. Five analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $22.61 billion.


‘Let the unicorns come!’ PIF advisor says Saudi's economic ‘pie’ is growing

‘Let the unicorns come!’ PIF advisor says Saudi's economic ‘pie’ is growing
Updated 26 October 2021

‘Let the unicorns come!’ PIF advisor says Saudi's economic ‘pie’ is growing

‘Let the unicorns come!’ PIF advisor says Saudi's economic ‘pie’ is growing

Entrepreneurship is the new growth economy, according to a leading figure in Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) as he called for business “unicorns” to come to the country.

Andrew Liveris, special advisor to the governor of the PIF, made the remarks as he discussed how economies need to diversify to embrace the digital age.

Speaking at the Future Investment Initiative Forum in Riyadh, Liveris insisted the economic “pie will get bigger”, but workers will need to be retrained to carry out the new, less traditional, jobs of the future.

Referring to start-ups that go on to achieve market valuations of over a billion dollars, Liveris said: “Let the unicorns come.”

His comments chime with those made by billionaire businessman Larry Fink at the Middle East Green Initiative Summit on Monday.

The chairman of US asset management giant BlackRock told delegates at the forum in Riyadh it will be firms producing environmentally-friendly goods and systems that will become the next billion dollar companies.

Fink said: "It’s my belief that the next 1,000 unicorns - companies that have a market valuation over a billion dollars - won’t be a search engine or media company. They will be businesses developing green hydrogen, and green agriculture, and green steel and green cement."