By Joanna Hartley
Banks in the Kingdom buck international trend for losses during the economic downturn.
Banks in Saudi Arabia have posted a 17.3 percent increase on net profit in the last quarter of last year, bucking the international banking trend for losses, it was reported on Saturday.
A report from the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) said the country’s commercial banks overall profit increase was worth SR4.4bn – up from SR25.5bn in Q4 2007 to SR29.9bn in Q4 2008 - despite the global economic crisis.
However, the report said the banks witnessed a 1.1 percent drop in annual average growth rate, according to UAE daily Gulf News.
However, the banks saw a rise of SR290m in the capital and reserves and the percentage of capital and reserves plus customer deposits rose to 15.6 percent against 14.8 percent in the same period of 2007.
The average annual growth of the capital and reserves accounted for SR25.8bn (24.3 percent), the report added.
Opening up “express service” service centres also generated increased business in terms of money transfers a trend that SAMA expected would continue as e-banking became more popular for salary payments and between individuals.
Express service business increased by SR5.86bn - with SR5.6bn coming from transfers between individuals and SR191bn through group payments.
Meanwhile, online transactions made through ATMs machines during Q4 2008 was SR207.8m.
These included transactions through banks and the Saudi Payments Network for a total of SR90.6bn.