The Saudi Central Bank (SAMA)’s investment into enhancing its payment infrastructure is paying off as it has exceeded the 60% retail e-payment target set by the Financial Sector Development Program (FSDP), latest figures show.
The number of point-of-sale (PoS) transactions executed via mada, the Saudi Payments Network, crossed the 7 billion milestone reaching 7.2 billion last year, leaping 40% year-on-year (y-o-y). Mada card online transactions surged 76% y-o-y to 610 million transactions while the number of PoS terminals nationwide grew by 42% to 1.4 million, according to data from SAMA. Overall, electronic transactions commanded 62% of total payments, including cash, in 2022.
This 62% market share is impressive considering how reliant Saudi Arabia had been on cash. In 2016, 82% of transactions were cash-based.
“This achievement is a reflection of the continuous and accelerated development of local payments in the past few years. The e-payment progress would not have been possible without the significant improvement in the payments infrastructure, enhancement of existing systems, and introduction of new systems and services,” said the regulator. “In addition, the sector’s progress in the regulatory, technical and operational aspects has contributed to the transformation toward recent electronic payments.”
The FSDP, a core program of Saudi Vision 2030, initially set a target of raising non-cash utilization to 70% by 2030; but SAMA intends to reach that in 2025, and judging by how far it has come, the target looks within reach.
The Kingdom has aggressively pushed for cashless adoption in recent years, including approving a new payments law in 2021, which subsequently saw the licensing of numerous payment fintech companies and enhancing the national payment system, mada, which has formed various partnerships to that effect including with stc pay. Payment solutions such as Apple Pay and Amazon’s Payfort also landed in Saudi Arabia.