Saudi Arabia’s fintech industry has witnessed a remarkable shift in the past few years. In the face of political and economic challenges and the effects of a global pandemic, fintech is booming in the kingdom.
Fintech in Saudi Arabia is driven majorly by young entrepreneurs, tech startups in Saudi Arabia, who are in a competitive market with large financial institutions. The value of fintech transactions in the kingdom keeps growing each year. It is currently valued at about $42bn. An annual growth of 15% is expected in the fintech Industry, which is a major attraction to investors in Saudi Arabia.
Presently there are 82 FinTech companies in the kingdom. Part of Saudi Arabia’s plan is to triple the number of fintechs it currently has by 2025. Plans are also being made to increase digital transactions of all financial dealings to 70% in the next three years. Fintech has its strategic pillar in the Kingdom, which is a positive sign that it will play an even bigger role in economic development and diversification in the future.
Fintech Companies licensed by Saudi Arabia
Below is a list of some popular fintech companies in Saudi Arabia. They are grouped according to the official fintech classification of Saudi Arabia.
- Payments and currency exchange: e.g. Geidea- Geidea provides payment services that offer digital banking solutions, Point-OF-Sale Terminal, and business management technology to Financial institutions and small businesses.
- Lending and finance: e.g., Lendo- Lendo offers instant, short-term lending to small and middle businesses.
- Private fundraising: e.g. Scopeer- Scopeer offers a platform for crowdfunding to help entrepreneurs, startups and thriving businesses in Saudi Arabia meet with potential investors both locally and internationally.
- Banking and banking infrastructure: e.g. Ateon- Ateon is a Saudi Arabia registered company that offers FinTech and Cyber Security solutions to companies in the financial and non-financial sectors.
- Personal finance — e.g Wafeer- Wafeer develops platforms that manage and track users’ expenses. It automatically offers a well-detailed report of purchases and payments without entering them manually.
REGULATIONS IMPACTING THE SAUDI ARABIA FINTECH INDUSTRY
Due to the rise of financial technology (fintech) in Saudi Arabia, The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) and the Capital Market Authority (CMA) have set up regulations to control Fintech-related activities in Saudi Arabia.
Any fintech Company that wants to enter the market in Saudi Arabia must first get the required licenses from The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA), the Capital Market Authority (CMA), or even both. The kind of license required depends on the services and activities the Fintech company wishes to perform.
A temporary license is issued by SAMA or CMA, permitting the fintech companies to go ahead with the activities for a trial period before getting approval from the authorities in charge.
All fintech startups must first obtain an expert and meet all requirements stated by the Capital Market Authority (CMA).
Any natural or legal person can apply to the authority to obtain a Fintech Expert. This permit gives an entity the right to practice in the fintech lab to release and test their FinTech innovations.
The applicant/entity can only test and deploy their FinTech product if granted the ExPermit.
The relevant authorities may impose additional regulatory requirements or restrictions, or conditions from the existing CMA’s regulation.
- Submit FinTech Expert application form to CMA or SAMA
- The appropriate regulatory reviews the application to determine the applicant’s preliminary eligibility following the requirements set out in the instructions
If the applicant potentially qualifies for the FinTech ExPermit, the financial technology company commences the business after notifying the Authority and obtaining its approval. If the company doesn’t qualify, the application is rejected, and the applicant is informed and given a grace period to fulfill the regulatory requirements.
Investment in fintech has skyrocketed worldwide in the last decade. Because of this, fintech tech startups in Saudi Arabia are rising, seeing the positive effects of it worldwide. Investors in Saudi Arabia are eager to invest in fintech technology in Saudi Arabia, as they are seeing how it continues to transform all aspects of the traditional banking industry.