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Saudi Arabia's bid for global fintech hub status gathers pace

Saudi Arabia's bid for global fintech hub status gathers pace

Saudi Arabia's push to become a global fintech centre is gathering pace, with the number of financial technology startups in the Kingdom growing by 79% over the past twelve months and attracting $400 million in funding.

The figures provide the highlight of the Fintech Saudi annual report, an initiative launched by the Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) in partnership with the Capital Markets Authority (CMA) to track and support the development of the local fintech ecosystem.

The report emphasises that over the last year there has been a growth in almost all fintech areas and in particular infrastructure activities as the Kingdom prepares for Open Banking.

Fintech Saudi has played a pivotal role in supporting the nascent industry with the launch of a co-working space, the Hub, that has become the home of fintech activity in the Kingdom and successful completion of the first accelerator programme to support startups with regulatory applications.

The report anticiapates further growth over the coming year, with the launch of three new digital banks, and the recent publication of the Kingdom's open banking framework, setting out legislation, regulatory guidelines and technical standards.

The surge in activity followws the publication last year of Saudi Arabia's Fintech Strategy paper, which set a goal to increase the sector’s contribution toward the gross domestic product to $3.46 billion by 2030. This will be achieved by increasing the number of fintech companies operating in the kingdom to 230 by 2025 and 525 by 2030. In addition, it aims to increase the share of non-cash transactions to 70% by 2025.

"During 2021 / 2022 we have seen the development of a maturing fintech industry in the Kingdom,” says Nezar Alhaidar, director of Fintech Saudi. “This year has been a significant year for the development of the Fintech industry in the Kingdom with the launch of the Fintech Strategy, which will drive Saudi Arabia to become a global fintech hub. We are pleased that we are on the way to achieving this target with 147 fintechs now active in the Kingdom.”

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