Saudi fintech firms mobilize economic change in the Kingdom

Special Saudi fintech firms mobilize economic change in the Kingdom
Short Url
Updated 19 April 2022

Saudi fintech firms mobilize economic change in the Kingdom

Saudi fintech firms mobilize economic change in the Kingdom
  • In 2021, KSA witnessed a 37% rise in new fintech launches over the previous year

RIYADH:  With the pandemic abating, a new crop of fintech companies is heralding the winds of change in the way businesses are run in Saudi Arabia.
From facilitating cashless payments to offering financial data analytics to providing loans, these firms are coming out with simpler and customized alternatives to traditional banking.
“The GDP in Saudi Arabia is just impressive. You have much bigger potential for what you do in Saudi Arabia. You have 10 times the potential in Egypt and at least five times the potential in the UAE,” Ahmad Coucha, co-founder and CEO of FlapKap, told Arab News.
FlapKap, an Egypt-based company, provides AI-based insights and financial data analytics and is planning to set shop in the Kingdom.
The company offers e-commerce firms cutting-edge insights to optimize their advertising spending and maximize profits. It also provides these businesses with flexible payment terms on advertising spending to ensure sustainable growth without cash constraints.


Another innovative fintech company making its presence felt in the Kingdom is HyperPay, a Jordan-based online payment company.
The company recently obtained a technical permit from Saudi Payments, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Saudi Central Bank, or SAMA.
The technical permit allows e-payment service providers to activate Mada services, a central payment scheme connecting all ATMs and sales points across the country.
“After years of hard work to establish a proper digital infrastructure, Saudi Arabia is now ready to adopt digital payments. And that is why they are way ahead of anyone in the region,” said Muhannad Ebwini, co-founder and CEO of HyperPay.




Muhannad Ebwini, co-founder and CEO of HyperPay


Of late, there has been a lot of traction in the fintech space thanks to SAMA’s role in promoting the sector’s development by allowing the entry of new players and new products as part of its Fintech Saudi program launched in 2018.
The initiative, aimed at pushing fintech companies to compete locally and globally, is now bearing fruits with an increasing number of innovative companies enhancing financial stability and supporting the economic development in the Kingdom.
According to a Fintech Saudi report, fintech transaction values between 2017 and 2019 increased by over 18 percent year-on-year, reaching over $20 billion in 2019.
With an increasing number of first-generation entrepreneurs competing with large financial institutions, the report stated that the transaction value will surpass $33 billion by 2023.
Additionally, there is also ample room for growth, with the average investment deal size at $2.7 million compared to the global average of $7.3 million, the report revealed.
Also noteworthy is the drastic change in the financial industry, which was earlier governed by a complex set of rules and regulations to ensure monetary safety. Fintech Saudi has tackled the problem by taking the bull by the horns.
The financial authority is now supporting these startups by walking them through the regulations and providing a more straightforward way to obtain an operating license from SAMA.
The result: The Kingdom witnessed a massive jump in venture capital investments in the fintech sector, hitting 16 deals in the first eight months of 2021, totaling $157.2 million. In 2021, it witnessed a 37-percent rise in new fintech launches over the previous year.


Factoring this instant rise in fintech companies, the Saudi Central Bank and the Capital Markets Authority launched the first-of-its-kind Financial Technology Center last month in Riyadh.
Located in Riyadh’s King Abdullah Financial District, the center aims to provide these fintech startups with investment opportunities. There’s no doubt that the prospects of fintech companies based in the Kingdom are far brighter now.
Last month, Saudi-based digital broker for personal loans Arib raised $2.3 million in a seed round investment led by venture capital firm Merak Capital.
The fintech will use its acquired funds to meet the requirements set by the Saudi Central Bank to finalize its licensing process and introduce new services to its portfolio.
Founded in 2019, Arib provides its users with auto financing options to match their credit profiles and get easy access to loans.
“The Kingdom is witnessing a huge technological revolution and a remarkable acceleration in digital transformation, especially in the financial technology sector,” said Arib CEO Walid Talaat, confirming the warm winds of change sweeping the Kingdom.


Saudi Arabia offering crude at discounts as competition rises: Bloomberg

Saudi Arabia offering crude at discounts as competition rises: Bloomberg
Updated 12 sec ago

Saudi Arabia offering crude at discounts as competition rises: Bloomberg

Saudi Arabia offering crude at discounts as competition rises: Bloomberg

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is offering some of its crudes at steep discounts amid rising competition from Russia with Moscow flushing cheap oil into the market, Bloomberg reported.

This has forced Riyadh to set the pricing of its Arab Heavy and Arab Medium grades at the largest discount related to Arab Light since 2014 for August-loading cargoes to Asia, data compiled by Bloomberg revealed. 

The report further noted that China and India are the biggest buyers of this discounted oil. These countries, however, have also increased purchases of Russian oil post the Ukrainian invasion. 

As Russia offered the fuel at discounted prices, pressure has mounted on the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries producers. 

Iran and Venezuela were among other countries that also slashed the price of oil. 

Arab Heavy and Arab Medium are considered less profitable fuel oil, which is used in shipping and power stations. 

Even though Saudi Arabia has offered huge discounts to buyers in the US and Europe, most buyers of the heavier grades are in Asia as their refineries are much equipped to process dense varieties.


Crypto Moves – Bitcoin and Ethereum fall; Voyager Digital files for bankruptcy; Crypto credit card with no spending cap launches in UAE

Crypto Moves – Bitcoin and Ethereum fall; Voyager Digital files for bankruptcy; Crypto credit card with no spending cap launches in UAE
Updated 42 min 15 sec ago

Crypto Moves – Bitcoin and Ethereum fall; Voyager Digital files for bankruptcy; Crypto credit card with no spending cap launches in UAE

Crypto Moves – Bitcoin and Ethereum fall; Voyager Digital files for bankruptcy; Crypto credit card with no spending cap launches in UAE

RIYADH: Bitcoin, the leading cryptocurrency internationally, traded lower on Wednesday, falling by 2.15 percent to $19,887.74 as of 9:40 a.m. Riyadh time.

Ethereum, the second most traded cryptocurrency, was priced at $1,121.72 falling by 3.54 percent, according to data from Coindesk.

Voyager Digital files for bankruptcy

Cryptocurrency lender Voyager Digital filed for bankruptcy on Wednesday, a week after it halted operations on its platform to give itself more time to consider strategic alternatives, according to Reuters.

Voyager, based in New Jersey, stated in its bankruptcy filing on Tuesday that it has more than 100,000 creditors, assets worth between $1 billion and $10 billion, and liabilities of the same amount.

All civil legal cases are suspended during a Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which also enables businesses to develop turnaround strategies while continuing to operate.

“The prolonged volatility and contagion in the crypto markets over the past few months, and the default of Three Arrows Capital on a loan from the company’s subsidiary, Voyager Digital, LLC, require us to take deliberate and decisive action now,” Voyager CEO Stephen Ehrlich said in a statement.

Voyager announced last week that it has sent a notice of default to Singapore-based cryptocurrency hedge fund Three Arrows Capital for failing to make due repayments on a loan for 15,250 bitcoin (about $324 million) and $350 million worth of USDC, a stablecoin.

Later that week, 3AC filed for chapter 15 bankruptcy, which enables foreign debtors to protect US assets.

Crypto credit card with no spending cap launches in UAE

The largest payment network in the world — crypto-powered Visa’s black card, bitcoinblack — has been introduced in the UAE.

Only 10,000 members worldwide can access bitcoinblack via invitation from VISA’s official website in order to become cardholders, according to a statement.

 The crypto-powered premium credit card was introduced in 2021 and is accepted anywhere. Its users can earn rewards of up to 10 percent back in unique ‘$SPND’ tokens.

“Bitcoinblack is perfectly suited for high net worth individuals who want to use their crypto for business or pleasure wherever they are in the world, including the 140+ countries where Visa is accepted,” CEO Prakash Chand said.

 


Oil Updates — Crude bounces back; OPEC general-secretary dies; US investors form venture eyeing Venezuelan oil

Oil Updates — Crude bounces back; OPEC general-secretary dies; US investors form venture eyeing Venezuelan oil
Updated 06 July 2022

Oil Updates — Crude bounces back; OPEC general-secretary dies; US investors form venture eyeing Venezuelan oil

Oil Updates — Crude bounces back; OPEC general-secretary dies; US investors form venture eyeing Venezuelan oil

RIYADH: Oil prices rose nearly 3 percent on Wednesday before paring some gains as investors piled back into the market after a heavy rout in the previous session.

Brent crude futures rose as much as $3.08, or 2.9 percent, to $105.85 a barrel in early trade after plunging 9.5 percent on Tuesday, the biggest daily drop since March. 

It was last up 92 cents, or 0.9 percent, at $103.69 a barrel at 0243 GMT.

US West Texas Intermediate crude climbed to a session high of $102.14 a barrel, up $2.64, or 2.7 percent, after closing below $100 for the first time since late April. It was last up 46 cents, or 0.5 percent, at $99.96 a barrel.

OPEC general secretary Mohammad Barkindo dies at 63

OPEC secretary-general Mohammad Barkindo has died at Abuja, Nigeria at the age of 63, Arab News learned.

He will be buried in his home town Yola, a source confirmed.

The news of Barkindo’s death was confirmed by Mele Kyari, managing director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.

In a tweet, Kyari described Barkindo’s departure as a great loss to his immediate family, NNPC Nigeria, OPEC and the global energy community.

US investors form venture to pursue oil and gas projects in Venezuela

Two US investment funds on Tuesday said they formed a joint venture with a Venezuelan firm to pursue oil and gas exploration and production projects in the US-sanctioned South American country.

Gramercy Funds Management and Atmos Global Energy said their joint venture would work with an arm of Inelectra Group, a Caracas-based firm that holds a stake in the Gulf of Paria East oil project off Venezuela’s eastern coast, where it found oil in 2001.

US companies are barred from doing business with Venezuelan state-run oil firm PDVSA, a policy begun in 2018 by the Trump administration and continued under US President Joe Biden.

The companies did not disclose the size of their investment in the oil venture. Spokespeople did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

Any effort is subject to approvals by the US and Venezuela, the companies said.

Ali Moshiri, a US executive and former chief of Chevron Corp’s Latin American operations, set up an investment fund in 2019 to pursue energy projects in Venezuela. The partners aim to “contribute to balancing oil supply and demand,” he said in a statement.

The oil effort “will be beneficial to US interests in the region and the US economy by lowering fuel prices for American consumers,” said Matt Maloney, a partner at Connecticut-based emerging market investor Gramercy.

(With input from Reuters) 


Commodities Update — Gold slowly climbs up; grains fall on recession fear; copper slides

Commodities Update — Gold slowly climbs up; grains fall on recession fear; copper slides
Updated 06 July 2022

Commodities Update — Gold slowly climbs up; grains fall on recession fear; copper slides

Commodities Update — Gold slowly climbs up; grains fall on recession fear; copper slides

RIYADH: Gold found temporary respite on Wednesday after touching a near seven-month low in the previous session, as the dollar paused for breath after a blistering surge to 20-year highs.

Spot gold rose 0.3 percent to $1,770.27 per ounce by 0330 GMT. 

US gold futures also firmed 0.3 percent to $1,769.10.

Silver drops

Spot silver dipped 0.1 percent to $19.27 per ounce, while platinum was down 0.7 percent at $859.52. 

Palladium slipped 0.2 percent to $1,929.35.

Grains fall

Chicago corn futures lost more ground on Wednesday, with prices trading near a multi-month low reached in the previous session on worries around a global recession.

Wheat eased, while soybeans ticked higher.

The most-active corn contract on the Chicago Board of Trade lost 0.8 percent to $5.73-3/4 a bushel as of 0252 GMT, while wheat gave up 0.6 percent to $8.02-1/2 a bushel.

Soybeans added 0.3 percent to 13.19-1/4 a bushel.

Copper dips

Copper prices fell on Wednesday to their lowest since November 2020, weighed down by a robust US dollar and threats to demand from heightened fears of a global recession and renewed lockdowns in top consumer China.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange was down 2.5 percent at $7,483 a ton, as of 0440 GMT, its lowest since November 27, 2020.

The most-traded August copper contract in Shanghai dropped 5.5 percent to $8,582.76 a ton by the midday break.

(With inputs from Reuters)


Saudi Advanced Petrochemical’s profits down 37% as raw material costs bite

Saudi Advanced Petrochemical’s profits down 37% as raw material costs bite
Updated 06 July 2022

Saudi Advanced Petrochemical’s profits down 37% as raw material costs bite

Saudi Advanced Petrochemical’s profits down 37% as raw material costs bite

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Advanced Petrochemical Co. saw its profit decline by 37 percent during the first half of 2022, hit by higher raw material prices.

The Jubail-based company’s profit dropped to SR274 million ($73 million), compared to SR436 million for the same period a year earlier, according to a bourse filing.

The decline was propelled by a rise in propane and outsourced propylene prices by 51 and 20 percent, respectively, and a decrease in profit share from its South Korean unit SK Advanced Co. by SR75 million.

This was coupled with an increase of 174 percent in offshore logistics costs, despite a 24-percent higher sales volume.

Sales of the Saudi-listed petrochemical producer surged to SR1.68 billion during the six-month period.

In a separate announcement, Advanced Petrochemical said it will distribute a cash dividend of SR142.53 million at SR0.55 per share for the second quarter of the year on Sept. 18.