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Digital payments overtake cash transactions in Saudi Arabia

A study reveals that almost 99% of government transactions to various beneficiaries are digital.

[Source photo: Anvita Gupta/Fast Company Middle East]

A study by the Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) stated that electronic payments had become the preferred mode of payment in the country.

Electronic transactions had shot up to 57% from 36% in 2019. The study also pointed out that if measured by value, these transactions represent 94% of all the payments made, while in terms of volume, the percentage of digital payments increased to 62% in all the sectors in 2021. However, in the previous year, the same stood at 44%.

The upward swing in the adoption of electronic payments is in line with the kingdom’s ambitious Vision 2030, which aims to promote the digital economy and transform it into a cashless society by converting 70% of transactions into electronic payments by 2025.

In terms of sheer numbers, the total number of digital payments was recorded to be 11.3 billion, which highlights that cash payment is no more the preferred mode of payment among the Saudis.

Additionally, the study also says that digital payment is becoming the primary mode of payment for the business or enterprise sector. 85% of the total business payments made in 2021 were said to be electronic compared to 51% in 2019, per the report.

In related news, a study by Visa showed that the kingdom is now among the top few countries that have adopted contactless payments. The study revealed that “contactless payments adoption in Saudi Arabia grew from 4% in 2017 to 94% at the end of 2020, placing [the kingdom] first in MENA and globally above the EU average and ahead of Hong Kong and Canada.”

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