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Mon 3 Jun 2019 08:35 AM

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Saudi central bank grants licences to 14 fintech firms

Move comes as non-cash transactions continue to account for less than a fifth in the kingdom

Saudi central bank grants licences to 14 fintech firms

The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority has granted licences to 14 fintech companies in the field of crowd lending and payment services.

The companies include Geidea, Bayan Payments Company Limited, HalalaH, Saudi Digital Payments Company, Saudi Post, Brightware, Tap Payments and more.

The move came after the authority granted licences to 7 firms earlier this year, bringing the total of licences issued to 21.

Non-cash transactions continue to account for less than a fifth in Saudi Arabia, but the kingdom is aiming to grow the number to 28 by next year in line with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030.

Saudi’s largest telecom operator STC launched a digital wallet app, STC Pay, last year in October to allow users to send money and pay restaurants and stores digitally. In February this year, it had attracted 200,000 customers.

The app will compete with local digital wallet app HalalaH, which was granted the licence in the authority’s most recent batch, as well as international players like Apple Pay, which launched in the kingdom in February.

Bloomberg Intelligence reported in April that the UAE tops the list of countries in the Middle East with the highest number of financial technology (fintech) start-ups.

The UAE with 67 was followed by Turkey at 44 and Jordan and Lebanon at 30 each, it said.

Overall, the number of fintech start-ups in the region is forecast to expand from 96 in 2019 to 465 by 2020, state news agency WAM reported.

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