Saudi banks shut down 42 branches in 12 months, increase digital presence

Saudi banks shut down 42 branches in 12 months, increase digital presence
The past three years of the pandemic slowly began the transformation toward digital banking, which can be seen closely in the Saudi banking sector. (Supplied)
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Updated 15 August 2022

Saudi banks shut down 42 branches in 12 months, increase digital presence

Saudi banks shut down 42 branches in 12 months, increase digital presence
  • More banks are switching to increased virtual interactions and digitalization, and new banks are opening entirely on that premise

CAIRO: Saudi banks shut down 42 branches over the year ending in June, revealed the Saudi Central Bank, also known as SAMA.

The number of bank branches in Saudi Arabia also inched lower to 1,927 in the second quarter this year from 1,932 in the same quarter last year.

So, what are the reasons behind this decreased number of bank branches, and when did this trend begin?

The most common assumption would be the COVID-19 pandemic and its prolonged effect on the entire economy, including the financial and banking sectors.

Between the fourth quarter of 2019 and the first quarter of 2021, which includes the peak of the pandemic, 68 branches were closed. 

Also, bank branches continued to decrease quarterly long after lifting COVID-19 restrictions, albeit there was no clear trend.

Between May 2020 and June this year, 137 bank branches in the Kingdom shut shop.

It is worth mentioning that branches that have closed are not second-tier or underperforming banks but some of the largest and well-performing ones. For instance, Al Rajhi Bank, which had 543 branches in the fourth quarter of 2020, reduced it to 515 by June this year.

While COVID-19 sparked the digital revolution, advanced and innovative technologies did the job.

The past three years of the pandemic slowly began the transformation toward digital banking, which can be seen closely in the Saudi banking sector.

More banks are switching to increased virtual interactions and digitalization, and new banks are opening entirely on that premise.

Last February, SAMA licensed and welcomed the Kingdom’s third digital bank D360 Bank, following the launch of STC and Saudi Digital Bank in June last year.

Similarly, according to SAMA, 19 Saudi fintech companies have been authorized to provide payment services, consumer microfinance and electronic insurance brokerage over the past few months.

So, what does the future of digital banking in the Kingdom hold and will the population accept this digital revolution?

In a survey conducted by Ipsos in the Kingdom in October 2021, the research major pointed out that 61 percent still trust traditional banks, while 47 percent counted on mobile service providers and 40 percent depended on popular digital brands to carry out financial transactions.

The report added: “63 percent said that they will be making all their financial transactions through digital banking in the future, and 58 percent believe that people would no longer use cash as a payment method.”


OPEC+ to discuss deep output cuts in Vienna meeting today

OPEC+ to discuss deep output cuts in Vienna meeting today
Updated 34 min 17 sec ago

OPEC+ to discuss deep output cuts in Vienna meeting today

OPEC+ to discuss deep output cuts in Vienna meeting today

RIYADH: The meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies led by Russia, together called OPEC+, set to take place today in Vienna is an important one and “will take the right decision,” according to the UAE Energy Minister Suhail al- Mazrouei. 

OPEC+ producers are expected to agree to a deep cut in their output target, curbing supply in an already tight market despite US pressure to pump more, according to a Reuters report. 

Citing OPEC+ sources, Reuters reported that OPEC+ will discuss output cuts of up to 2 million barrels per day, and a cut of that magnitude will be the biggest since the pandemic outbreak. 

Ahead of the meeting, oil prices moderated slightly. 

Brent crude was down 0.04 percent to $91.76 a barrel at 10.50 a.m Saudi time, while US West Texas Intermediate fell 0.09 percent to $86.43 per barrel.


Arabian Plastic Industrial Co. to start trading on Nomu on Oct. 5

Arabian Plastic Industrial Co. to start trading on Nomu on Oct. 5
Updated 05 October 2022

Arabian Plastic Industrial Co. to start trading on Nomu on Oct. 5

Arabian Plastic Industrial Co. to start trading on Nomu on Oct. 5

RIYADH: Arabian Plastic Industrial Co.’s shares are scheduled to begin trading on Tadawul’s Nomu-Parallel Market today, Oct. 5.

APICO offered 1 million shares, or 20 percent of its SR50 million ($13 million) market capitalization.

The offering coverage was 15.43 times oversubscribed, with the offer price set at SR27 per share.

Established in 1996, APICO serves customers across different sectors, including but not limited to Almarai Co., flynas, TotalEnergies, and Nahdi Medical Co.

 

 


Saudi startup Jahez to acquire all shares in Marn Business for $16m

Saudi startup Jahez to acquire all shares in Marn Business for $16m
Updated 05 October 2022

Saudi startup Jahez to acquire all shares in Marn Business for $16m

Saudi startup Jahez to acquire all shares in Marn Business for $16m

RIYADH: Jahez International Co. for Information Systems Technology has signed an agreement to acquire all shareholders’ shares of Marn Business Information Technology Co. for SR60 million ($16 million).

The transaction is in line with the online food delivery platform Jahez’s strategy of expanding its business through acquisitions in order to take advantage of the growing opportunities in the industry, it said in a bourse filing.

The completion of this agreement requires the approval of relevant authorities, including approval from the General Authority for Competition.

The financial impact is expected to appear in the second half of the fiscal year 2022, it said.

Marn Business develops an eco-system by integrating digital services with different service providers to build systems for business owners.


Saudi MEPCO’s shares climb as it gets CMA node for 33% capital raise 

Saudi MEPCO’s shares climb as it gets CMA node for 33% capital raise 
Updated 05 October 2022

Saudi MEPCO’s shares climb as it gets CMA node for 33% capital raise 

Saudi MEPCO’s shares climb as it gets CMA node for 33% capital raise 

RIYADH: Jeddah-based Middle East Paper Co. saw its share price rise in early trade, after it received the Capital Market Authority’s approval to increase its capital to SR666 million ($177 million) in support of the company’s financial position and growth plans.

MEPCO’s shares gained 3.25 percent to reach SR57.20 at 10:07 a.m. Saudi time.

The Saudi-listed paper manufacturer’s plan calls for a 33 percent capital hike from the current capital of SR500 million, according to a bourse filing.

Subject to obtaining shareholders’ nod, the transaction will be conducted by granting shareholders one bonus share for every three shares held.

 


UAE healthcare provider Burjeel's IPO 29 times oversubscribed, final price set at $0.54

UAE healthcare provider Burjeel's IPO 29 times oversubscribed, final price set at $0.54
Updated 05 October 2022

UAE healthcare provider Burjeel's IPO 29 times oversubscribed, final price set at $0.54

UAE healthcare provider Burjeel's IPO 29 times oversubscribed, final price set at $0.54

RIYADH: The UAE-based private healthcare provider Burjeel Holdings set its final offering price at 2 dirhams ($0.54) per share following the completion of its bookbuild and public subscription.

The offering was oversubscribed multiple times as the total gross demand amounted to over 32 billion dirhams, implying a 29-fold oversubscription, the company reported.