Retail e-payments exceed Saudi Vision target in 2021, Central Bank says

Retail e-payments exceed Saudi Vision target in 2021, Central Bank says
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Updated 28 January 2022

Retail e-payments exceed Saudi Vision target in 2021, Central Bank says

Retail e-payments exceed Saudi Vision target in 2021, Central Bank says

RIYADH: Electronic payments in retail surpassed the 55 percent target set out by the Financial Sector Development Program, FSDP, one of the main programs of Saudi Vision 2030.

The e-payments exceeded 57 percent of total transactions conducted in 2021, the Saudi Central Bank said in a statement.

Over 5.1 billion transactions were made through the national Mada payment system during 2021, with a growth rate of 81 percent compared to 76 percent in 2020, the statement said.

More than a million Point of Sale terminals were deployed by the end of 2021 compared to 721,000 terminals deployed in 2020.

Additionally, contactless payments methods accounted for 95 percent of all PoS transactions in 2021, alongside other electronic payment methods such as e-commerce payments, ‘SADAD’ system payments and the new Instant Money Transfer through ‘Sarie’ system and others.

The business sector had 84 percent of its total payment transactions electronic in 2021, compared to just 51 percent in 2019, marking a 65 percent increase in electronic payment share during these past two years.

Accordingly, major corporations rely on electronic payments to complete 99.6 percent of their transactions, while the same metric stood at 78 percent for Small Medium Enterprises, and 76 percent for micro enterprises, the Central Bank noted.

The Central Bank is working on promoting electronic infrastructure, expanding electronic payment activities and accelerating the electronic transformation of transactions, Governor of the Bank Fahad Almubarak said.

He added that this most recent achievement was driven by FSDP and the implementation of the bank's strategic plans for the payments sector, primarily aiming to reduce dependency on cash, and increase the rate of electronic payments to 70 percent by 2025.

Almubarak emphasized the joint efforts between the government and private sectors to increase payment choices and implement many payment digitization initiatives.


Saudi healthcare provider Mouwasat to fully acquire Egypt’s Al-Marasem Hospital

Saudi healthcare provider Mouwasat to fully acquire Egypt’s Al-Marasem Hospital
Updated 19 sec ago

Saudi healthcare provider Mouwasat to fully acquire Egypt’s Al-Marasem Hospital

Saudi healthcare provider Mouwasat to fully acquire Egypt’s Al-Marasem Hospital

RIYADH: Saudi Mouwasat Medical Services Co. has signed a nonbinding deal to fully acquire Egypt’s Al-Marasem International Hospital.

The two parties agreed to determine the value of the final deal after completing the due diligence work, according to a bourse filing.

The memorandum is valid for three months starting May 22, subject to renewal.

The impact on the company's financial results will become apparent once the transaction is completed, said the company.


BMW exploring energy investments to reduce dependence on natural gas

BMW exploring energy investments to reduce dependence on natural gas
Updated 11 min 30 sec ago

BMW exploring energy investments to reduce dependence on natural gas

BMW exploring energy investments to reduce dependence on natural gas

BERLIN: German carmaker BMW is exploring new investments in solar, geothermal and hydrogen energy to lower its dependence on natural gas, the company’s production chief told Reuters on Monday. 

He warned that an embargo on Russian gas would bring the industry to a standstill.

The carmaker, which relied on natural gas for 54 percent of its energy consumption in 2021, is examining where it can add solar panels to its plants and developing plans with local authorities to transport hydrogen to its plant in Leipzig, Germany.

“Hydrogen is very well-suited to lower or even fully compensate for gas demand,” Milan Nedeljkovic said.

“Our industry accounts for around 37 percent of German natural gas consumption,” he said when asked what would happen to BMW’s plants in the event of a halt to gas deliveries from Russia. “Not just BMW but the entire sector would come to a standstill.”

BMW’s plans reflect wider preparations underway across German industry to shift away from Russian gas and come up with a system to ration available supplies in the event of a sudden halt to deliveries. 

Beyond Germany, a new plant in Debrecen, Hungary, which BMW has said will be the world’s first auto factory to run entirely without fossil fuels, will rely heavily on solar, Nedelkjovic said, adding that the carmaker was also looking into using geothermal energy.

Geothermal power is more stable than weather-dependent renewables but has not seen growth or investment comparable to wind or solar partly due to high upfront costs and complex licensing processes for drilling.

Asked about the potential of nuclear energy, which accounts for around half of Hungary’s energy supply but is being phased out in Germany, Nedeljkovic said: “Nuclear energy can be a stabilizing factor, particularly in these volatile times. For our own production, we rely on regenerative energy sources.”

 


NFTs losing luster as cryptocurrencies crash

NFTs losing luster as cryptocurrencies crash
Updated 23 May 2022

NFTs losing luster as cryptocurrencies crash

NFTs losing luster as cryptocurrencies crash
  • Fraud a major reason cited for the downturn, with amounts lost to scams described as "eye-watering"
  • At least 80 percent of NFTs on leading exchanges OpenSea and LooksRare found to be fake

PARIS: A slew of celebrity endorsements helped inflate a multi-billion dollar bubble around digital tokens over the past year, but cryptocurrencies are crashing and some fear NFTs could be next.
NFTs are tokens linked to digital images, “collectable” items, avatars in games or property and objects in the burgeoning virtual world of the metaverse.
The likes of Paris Hilton, Gwyneth Paltrow and Serena Williams have boasted about owning NFTs and many under-30s have been enticed to gamble for the chance of making a quick profit.
But the whole sector is suffering a rout at the moment with all the major cryptocurrencies slumping in value, and the signs for NFTs are mixed at best.
The number of NFTs traded in the first quarter of this year slumped by almost 50 percent compared to the previous quarter, according to analysis firm Non-Fungible.
They reckoned the market was digesting the vast amount of NFTs created last year, with the resale market just getting off the ground.
Monitoring firm CryptoSlam reported a dramatic tail-off in May, with just $31 million spent on art and collectibles in the week to May 15, the lowest figure all year.
A symbol of the struggle is the forlorn attempt to re-sell an NFT of Twitter founder Jack Dorsey’s first tweet.
Dorsey managed to sell the NFT for almost $3 million last year but the new owner cannot find anyone willing to pay more than $20,000.

Molly White, a prominent critic of the crypto sphere, told AFP there were many possible reasons for the downturn.
“It could be a general decrease in hype, it could be fear of scams after so many high-profile ones, or it could be people tightening their belts,” she said.
The reputation of the industry has been hammered for much of the year.
The main exchange, OpenSea, admitted in January that more than 80 percent of the NFTs created with its free tool were fraudulent — many of them copies of other NFTs or famous artworks reproduced without permission.
“There’s a bit of everything on OpenSea,” said Olivier Lerner, co-author of the book “NFT Mine d’Or” (NFT Gold Mine).
“It’s a huge site and it’s not curated, so you really have no idea what you’re buying.”
LooksRare, an NFT exchange that overtook OpenSea for volume of sales this year, got into similar problems as its rival.
As many as 95 percent of the transactions on its platform were found to be fake, according to CryptoSlam.
Users were selling NFTs to themselves because LooksRare was offering tokens with every transaction — no matter what you were buying.
And the amounts lost to scams this year have been eye-watering.
The owners of Axie Infinity, a game played by millions in the Philippines and elsewhere and a key driver of the NFT market, managed to lose more than $500 million in a single swindle.

“As soon as you have a new technology, you immediately have fraudsters circling,” lawyer Eric Barbry told AFP.
He pointed out that the NFT market had no dedicated regulation so law enforcement agencies are left to cobble together a response using existing frameworks.
Molly White said strong regulation could help eliminate the extreme speculation but that could, in turn, rob NFTs of their major appeal — that they can bring quick profits.
“I think less hype would be a good thing — in its current form, NFT trading is enormously risky and probably unwise for the average person,” she said.
NFTs are often likened to the traditional art market because they have no inherent utility and their prices fluctuated wildly depending on trends and hype.
But Olivier Lerner suggested a different comparison.
“It’s like the lottery,” he said of those seeking big profits from NFTs. “You play, but you never win.”


Riyadh hopes to ‘work out an agreement with OPEC+ which includes Russia,’ says energy minister

Riyadh hopes to ‘work out an agreement with OPEC+ which includes Russia,’ says energy minister
Updated 22 May 2022

Riyadh hopes to ‘work out an agreement with OPEC+ which includes Russia,’ says energy minister

Riyadh hopes to ‘work out an agreement with OPEC+ which includes Russia,’ says energy minister
  • Prince Abdulaziz says OPEC+ will be needed to bring about ‘orderly adjustments’ in the future

RIYADH: Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman has said Riyadh was “hoping to work out an agreement with OPEC+ which includes Russia.”

Talking to Financial Times, the minister said politics should be kept out of OPEC+ and insisted the “world should appreciate the value” the alliance of oil producers.

Oil prices have reached their highest levels in a decade, a set of OPEC+ production quotas put in place in April 2020 is set to expire in three months.

With the havoc you see now it’s too premature to try to pinpoint (an agreement).

Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman

Prince Abdulaziz said it was too early to say what a new agreement might look like given the uncertainties in the market, but added that OPEC+ would increase production “if the demand is there.” 

“With the havoc you see now it’s too premature to try to pinpoint (an agreement),” he said in the interview. “But what we know is what we have succeeded to deliver is sufficient for people to say so far there is a merit, there is a value of being there, working together.”

OPEC+ has stuck to its 2020 agreement, under which the alliance members raise total production each month by the modest amount of 430,000 barrels a day. But Russia’s output has dropped since the start of the Ukraine war, falling from about 11 million barrels per day in March to an average of 10 million bpd in April, according to data provider OilX.

Prince Abdulaziz blamed soaring prices on a lack of global refining capacity and taxes. “The determinant of the market is refinery capacity, and how do you unlock it,” he said. “At least for the last three years, the whole world lost around 4 million barrels of refining capacity, 2.7 million of them just from the beginning of COVID-19.” 

The Saudi energy minister said the OPEC+ alliance would be needed to bring about “orderly adjustments” in the future amid uncertainty about coronavirus lockdowns in China, global growth and supply chains.

He said to ease bottlenecks in production and refinery capacity governments have to encourage the industry to invest in hydrocarbons even as nations switch to cleaner energy sources. “This situation needs people to sit together, focus, take out the masquerade and the so-called political correctness … it’s about trying to relate to existing reality and find remedies to it.”

 

 


Uplift projects worth $247m inaugurated in Al-Qassim


Uplift projects worth $247m inaugurated in Al-Qassim

Updated 22 May 2022

Uplift projects worth $247m inaugurated in Al-Qassim


Uplift projects worth $247m inaugurated in Al-Qassim


RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Al-Qassim region on Sunday witnessed the inauguration of 27 development projects in the environment, water and agriculture sectors valued at SR927 million ($247 million). 

The newly launched projects are inclusive of everything related to the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture, Saudi Press Agency reported citing Gov. Faisal bin Mishaal bin Saud.