The world’s largest Islamic financial market has unveiled a national payment system in a bid to elevate itself to become a cashless society, drive financial inclusion and anchor its position as a formidable regional fintech proponent.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s instant payment system is known as ‘sarie’ and is spearheaded by the Saudi Central Bank (SAMA).
“The launching of [the] sarie system comes as part of a series of SAMA-led initiatives to promote the national payment ecosystem and to enhance its infrastructure, aiming to achieve financial inclusion. National payment systems are fundamental in strengthening the Kingdom’s pioneering position in the financial sector. They offer secure and innovative payment solutions, meet the needs of various segments of the economy and increase the effectiveness of the liquidity circulation in the financial system, through reducing the operational costs of cash handling, facilitating sending and receiving payments and driving the digital transformation in the Kingdom by increasing the volume of digital financial transactions,” commented SAMA Governor Dr Fahad Abdullah Al Mubarak.
Saudi Payments Managing Director Fahd Al Akeel explained: “Sarie services will allow the banking sector’s clients to send and receive low-value local transactions around the clock and for a low fee, not exceeding SAR1 (26.64 US cents). Additionally, the system provides beneficiaries with other services and transfer options, including using the mobile number as an identifier instead of the IBAN for transactions between banks, and the ability to verify the validity of the recipient’s bank account before completing the transaction.”
The service supports transactions of up to SAR20,000 (US$5,328.56). It is hoped that the system would spur banks and fintech companies in the cash-rich nation to develop innovative financial services that are aligned with the Kingdom’s digital economy goal as part of its national digital transformation strategy.