RIYADH: In a move to bolster the Kingdom’s fintech landscape, the Saudi Central Bank has issued a license to Alhulul AlMubassatah Financial Co., also known as SiFi, allowing it to offer e-wallet solutions in the country.
With the addition of SiFi, the total number of licensed payment service providers in Saudi Arabia has reached 25, alongside seven companies that have secured initial approval to operate within the central bank’s regulatory sandbox.
Also known as SAMA, the central bank’s move underscores its commitment to bolstering the payments sector, enhancing the efficiency of financial transactions, and fostering innovative financial solutions to promote greater financial inclusion across the Kingdom.
Earlier in August, SAMA granted a new license to Loan, a fintech company, to provide consumers with microfinance solutions within the Kingdom. This brings the count to six authorized firms offering consumer microfinance solutions.
In July, SAMA also licensed Fas Finance Co., a Shariah-compliant digital consumer finance company operating under Fas Labs. The company is a joint venture between Arabian Centres Co. and Fawaz Abdulaziz Alhokair Co. Fas Labs owns 65 percent of Fas Finance, while valU, an Egyptian buy-now-pay-later platform, holds the remaining 35 percent following a deal signed in June 2022.
In the same month, SAMA issued a permit to the buy-now-pay-later platform Tabby, enabling it to operate postpaid payment activities within the Kingdom.
As highlighted in a statement issued at that time, SAMA said this development signifies a stride for Saudi Arabia, whose total count of authorized companies equipped to provide BNPL solutions reached five. It said the move is poised to further strengthen the Kingdom’s goals of becoming a regional fintech hub.
SAMA’s recent endeavors are aligned with its broader vision of incorporating technology into financial services to support Saudi Arabia’s economic diversification strategy, known as Vision 2030.
As part of the Ministry of Finance's National Fintech Strategy, the number of firms in the sector is projected to rise from 82 in 2022 to 230 by 2025.
The strategy aims to elevate the fintech sector’s contribution to the gross domestic product to SR4.5 billion ($1.2 billion) and create nearly 6,000 jobs by 2025.
It also targets increasing the share of digital transactions to 70 percent of all financial transactions.