STC Pay, Thales partner to boost contactless card payment

STC Pay, Thales partner to boost contactless card payment
Under Vision 2030, KSA has set an ambitious target of achieving 70 percent noncash transactions by 2030 and achieve digital transformation. (Reuters/File)
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Updated 15 February 2021

STC Pay, Thales partner to boost contactless card payment

STC Pay, Thales partner to boost contactless card payment
  • STC Pay customers will be able to order the card, activate, deactivate and set spending limits through their mobile application

RIYADH: The Saudi Telecom Company (STC) mobile wallet app STC Pay has partnered with French technology provider Thales to introduce contactless cards into the Kingdom.

This will enable payments at point of sales (POS) machines, e-commerce transactions and cash withdrawals at local and international ATMs.

The digitized and fully customizable cards are compatible with Apple Pay and Mada Pay, providing secure payments for both iPhone and Android users. STC Pay customers will be able to order the card, activate, deactivate and set spending limits through their mobile application.

Ahmed Alenazi, STC Pay CEO, said that the cards would provide customers with digital payment solutions that were fast, convenient and, above all, secure.

“As the Kingdom progresses toward a cashless society, we are always looking for ways to provide new and innovative technologies and digital experiences to our customers,” he said.

Pascal Lesaulnier, CEO Thales Saudi Arabia, highlighted how the coronavirus pandemic had led to increased concern about the use of cash, and how the transformation to a contactless, cashless society had been “naturally accelerated.”

“It is only through the creation of novel, secure solutions, that we can build a future we can trust. We are very proud of the fruitful partnership developed over the years with STC Pay and we remain fully committed to supporting innovation in the Kingdom in line with Vision 2030. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been at the forefront of smart cities, and STC Pay plays a key role in this remarkable journey,” he said.

Under the umbrella of Vision 2030, the Kingdom has set an ambitious target of achieving 70 percent non-cash transactions by 2030. Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) regulations have been supporting local banks to move toward contactless cards and mobile payment, which has led to an increase in demand for secure contactless solutions.

Digital payment transactions in the Kingdom jumped by 75 percent in 2020 as Saudi consumers embraced online shopping during the pandemic, while cash withdrawals from ATMs and other payment points fell 30 percent over the same period.

Additionally, as consumers turned to online and digital non-contact payments during the pandemic, the number of cash withdrawals carried out in 2020 across the Kingdom dropped by more than 318 million, or about 30 percent year-on-year.

STC Pay was launched in 2015, while Thales has had a presence in the Kingdom for more than 50 years, providing solutions, services and products in aeronautics, defense, space, transportation, and digital identity and security.


Saudi military industry delegation meets investors in London defense show

Saudi military industry delegation meets investors in London defense show
Updated 17 September 2021

Saudi military industry delegation meets investors in London defense show

Saudi military industry delegation meets investors in London defense show
  • Officials from Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Military Industries (GAMI) and Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) met with a number of major international investors in the fields of defense and military security

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s military industry delegation concluded on Friday its participation in the four-day Defense and Security Equipment International (DSEI) trade fair held at the ExCel Center in London with meetings with investors.

Officials from Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Military Industries (GAMI) and Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) met with a number of major international investors in the fields of defense and military security from the United Kingdom and European countries, as well as a number of people from other countries interested in the defense and security military industries sector, GAMI said in a statement.

These meetings were attended GAMI Governor Eng. Ahmed bin Abdulaziz Al-Ohali, GAMI’s partners in the sector, as well as Saudi and British officials and stakeholders from the industry and investment sectors.

The UK Minister of defense Ben Wallace and a number of official delegations at the regional and international levels also inspected the Saudi pavilion, learning about the key targets of the military industry sector in the Kingdom, its promising investment opportunities and the pursuit of GAMI to reflect the ambitious vision of the wise leadership aiming at the Saudization of more than 50 percent of spending on military equipment and services by 2030.


Saudi Arabia in negotiations to localize vaccine industry: deputy minister

Saudi Arabia in negotiations to localize vaccine industry: deputy minister
Updated 17 September 2021

Saudi Arabia in negotiations to localize vaccine industry: deputy minister

Saudi Arabia in negotiations to localize vaccine industry: deputy minister
  • The Saudi Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources is working to transfer technology and localize vaccine industries and production platforms

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia plans to follow up its agreements with Pfizer and AstraZeneca to produce vaccines in the Kingdom with further initiatives to localize the pharmaceutical industries and to become a regional center for these companies, said Deputy Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Osama Al-Zamil.

The Saudi Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources, the King Abdullah International Center for Medical Research (KIMAR), and the Pfizer Scientific Foundation signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on Tuesday, to build the foundations for the manufacture of viral and genetic vaccines in the Kingdom.

The MoU, signed during the activities of the Riyadh Summit for Medical Technology 2021, held in Riyadh, also includes providing technical support for the establishment of a human stem cell platform.

The ministry is working to transfer technology and localize vaccine industries and production platforms to manufacture, accelerate and provide vaccines in what is known as CDMO, as a basis for building suitable industrial clusters in this promising sector, and this is indeed the core of the agreement signed at the summit with Pfizer, Alzamil told Al Arabiya.


The agreements need a follow up as they aim in the long run to establish the infrastructure, not just direct manufacturing or commercial production, he said.

The first aim is to establish a research center through which different types of vaccines will be produced and clinical trials will be conducted, after which work will be done on manufacturing and commercial production.

There are 40 Saudi factories working in the drug manufacturing sector, and there are three or four factories that are ready to manufacture directly with these companies, he said.

The Ministry of Industry was entrusted with the task of achieving pharmaceutical security in the Kingdom, especially after it became a priority amid the effects of the pandemic on supply chains, Al-Zamil said.

Saudi Arabia wants to be the first choice for international companies working in the field of pharmaceuticals, and its platform for access to the countries of the Middle East.

“We are working to secure our needs in cooperation with government agencies and our international partners,” he said.


Lubna Olayan becomes first woman to head a Saudi foreign business council

Lubna Olayan becomes first woman to head a Saudi foreign business council
Updated 17 September 2021

Lubna Olayan becomes first woman to head a Saudi foreign business council

Lubna Olayan becomes first woman to head a Saudi foreign business council
  • Olayan appointed president of the the Saudi-Swedish Business Council

JEDDAH: Prominent Saudi businesswoman Lubna Olayan has become the first woman to head up a foreign business council in the Kingdom following her approval as president of the Saudi-Swedish Business Council by the General Authority for Foreign Trade.

Mohammed Batterjee and Saud Al-Suleiman were named as her deputies.

Olayan has been a major figure in Saudi business for decades and was named as one of the 100 most influential people by Time magazine in 2005 and has featured in the Forbes list of most powerful women many times over the years, most recently at no. 58 in 2018.

She became chairwoman of the Saudi British Bank in 2019 and was reappointed to a three-year term in January 2020 following its merger with Alawwal Bank to create the Kingdom’s third-largest lender.

Olayan was CEO of the Olayan Financing Company, one of Saudi Arabia’s largest conglomerates, until she stepped down in April 2019, but remains on the board. The company, founded by her father in 1947, is a private multinational engaged in distribution, manufacturing, services and investments.

She thanked the members of the council for their trust in her and her two deputies as they assumed their responsibilities, stating that she will continue to work to improve the council’s work and activate its role in developing inter-economic relations between the two countries.

The 36 Saudi foreign business councils operate under the supervision of the General Authority for Foreign Trade, as well as the umbrella of the Federation of Saudi Chambers of Commerce, with the goal of strengthening economic ties between the Kingdom and friendly states, increasing access to foreign markets for Saudi products, and encouraging foreign investment.


Saudi regulator supports Fintech industry with new regulatory measures 

Saudi regulator supports Fintech industry with new regulatory measures 
Updated 17 September 2021

Saudi regulator supports Fintech industry with new regulatory measures 

Saudi regulator supports Fintech industry with new regulatory measures 
  • Amendments to Financial Technology Experimental Permit Instructions have been approved

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia's financial markets regulator is adding new measures aiming at enhancing the fintech regulatory framework. 

The Capital Market Authority (CMA) announced on Thursday the approval of amendments to Financial Technology (Fintech) Experimental Permit Instructions.

The amendments include adding definitions to clarify the nature of the Fintech Lab and adding instructions for business practice in the Fintech Lab.

The amendments also include updating the application form for the Fintech ExPermit.

"The continuous progress in the technical infrastructure development in Saudi Arabia such as wider implementation of digital identity, data privacy laws, and data classification framework will accelerate the wider adoption of digital services extended by banks and Fintechs," Nejoud Al Mulaik, Head of Saudi Fintech, told Arab News.

Amendments will become effective from the date of their publication, the statement on Saudi Stock Market (Tadawul) said.

 


South Africa, Saudi Arabia seek to boost trade following pandemic dip

South Africa, Saudi Arabia seek to boost trade following pandemic dip
Updated 17 September 2021

South Africa, Saudi Arabia seek to boost trade following pandemic dip

South Africa, Saudi Arabia seek to boost trade following pandemic dip
  • Saudi South African Business Council pledges to boost cooperation in infrastructure development, agriculture, mining and energy, tourism

JEDDAH: South Africa and Saudi Arabia are looking to boost trade between the two countries following a pandemic-hit year that saw imports from the Kingdom fall to a four-year low in 2020.

South African imports from Saudi Arabia slid to $2.69 billion in 2020 from $3.66 billion in 2019 and $5.41 billion in 2018, according to data from the UN Comtrade database. The vast majority of that was made up of oil and fuels ($2.27 billion or 84 percent in 2020), followed by fertilizers at $145.3 million and plastics at $124.5 million.

South Africa imports approximately 40 percent of its oil from Saudi Arabia, according to the EIA.

Far fewer goods went the other way, with Saudi Arabia importing $347.8 million from South Africa last year, down from $423.8 million in 2019 and $423.0 million in 2018.

The Saudi South African Business Council under the umbrella of the Federation of Saudi Chambers, held the Saudi South African business webinar on Thursday, co-organized with the Johannesburg Chamber of Commerce.

The two countries have committed to strengthen their ties by working more closely in sectors such as infrastructure development, agriculture, mining and energy, tourism, and other areas.

“Despite the progress in our relations, we look forward to expanding the scope of our cooperation with South Africa in line with our respective capabilities,” said Chairman of the Saudi-South African Business Council Hisham Al-Amoudi. “The Saudi market has the capacity to host more South African investments, namely in mining, health care, small to medium enterprises (SMEs), agriculture and information technology, among others.”

Al-Amoudi said that a number of measures must be taken to achieve this, including activating the agreements and memorandum of understanding (MOUs) signed between the two countries, increasing activities of the Saudi South African Business Council, “developing programs that support our goals, and enhancing our overall dialogue on topics of mutual interest.”

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa made a state visit to the Kingdom in 2018 to meet King Salman and the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to assess relations, focusing primarily on strengthening economic linkages between South Africa and Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia and South Africa are both G20 countries, and the Crown Prince has met with the South African President on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Argentina.

“Saudi Arabia is also a large investor in South Africa, especially in the area of renewable energy,” said Al-Amoudi.

“We seek to work with our South African friends to facilitate the access of Saudi products to the South African market, and enhance the Saudi-South African balance of trade,” he said. “I hope that these initiatives will elevate a strong relation to a higher level,” he added.