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SA22_FI_SAUDIPAYMENTS ABDULAZIZ AL AFALEG

SAUDI ARABIA - Finance

Abdulaziz Al Afaleg

Managing Director, Saudi Payments

Bio

As the Managing Director of Saudi Payments, Abdulaziz Al Afaleg has a proven track record of running the Kingdom’s systemically important payment systems. He has over 17 years’ experience gained within the financial services sector. A graduate of King Saud University, AlAfaleq obtained his MBA from Alfaisal University and attended the Harvard Business School for Leadership Development.

"Saudi Payments has developed the infrastructure and systems to offer fintech companies the opportunity to benefit from these systems, allowing them to provide hosting services for mada POS and e-commerce operations and issue mada banking cards by non-bank entities."
The national payments infrastructure provider and main enabler of payment services in the Kingdom, Saudi Payments has provided safe, reliable, and innovative services to boost digital payments.
What have been some of the main achievements for Saudi Payments over the last year, and how have your operations aligned with the financial sector program goals within Vision 2030?

Since the establishment of Saudi Payments, we have continued the previous efforts of the payments system, under the supervision and follow-up of the Saudi Central Bank, in line with the objectives and pillars of the Financial Sector Development Program, one of KSA’s Vision 2030 programs. One of the key achievements we are proud of is the Sarie system, which was launched by the governor of the Saudi Central Bank in 2021. The system has made a quantum leap in financial transactions and bank transfers and has helped facilitate financial transactions for beneficiaries, enabled them to meet their financial obligations, and provided them with a much-needed innovative solution. Since the launch of the Sarie system, more than 179 million transactions have been processed with a total value of SAR276 billion. The percentage of approved transactions out of total transactions was 98%, with an increase in the share of low-value transfers. Saudi Payments’ digital transformation efforts reflected Saudi Arabia’s first rank in NFC adoption rate of 95% ahead of the MENA region and many payments-advanced countries such as EU countries, Hong Kong, and Canada. Saudi Payments’ last achievements include the preparation of the electronic payment environment for King Abdulaziz Project for Riyadh Public Transport (buses and Riyadh metro) and providing Mada service in this project, in cooperation with the Royal Commission for Riyadh City, Saudi Banks, and payments service providers, by developing the infrastructure of the National Payments System mada. From December 2020 to the end of December 2021, we registered 52% growth in POS processes, 18% POS value growth, 111% smart payment growth, and 41% growth in POS terminals in KSA. Saudi Payments has certified two local payment gateways, Neo Leap and HyperPay, to offer the new mada e-commerce services (e.g., preauthorization and capture, agreed payments, and card-on-file). The Saudi market is witnessing significant growth in e-commerce, as the volume of transactions through mada cards jumped by 97% in December 2021 compared to December 2020, recording 39.8 million transactions at the end of the period, compared to 20.1 million in December 2020. The value of e-commerce transactions in December 2021, meanwhile, increased by 81% YoY, reaching SAR8.1 billion at the end of the period, compared to SAR4.4 billion in December 2020.

How do you characterize Saudi Payment’s role in furthering the fintech market’s development?

Saudi Payments has developed the infrastructure and systems to offer fintech companies the opportunity to benefit from these systems, allowing them to provide hosting services for mada POS and e-commerce operations and issue mada banking cards by non-bank entities. We also worked on a project to connect licensed financial technology companies with SADAD to enable them to play roles previously limited to banks and enable users to pay their bills through fintech companies. Consequently, the fintech sector in KSA witnessed continued growth at an accelerated pace over the past 12 months. The number of fintech companies has increased by 37%, and the investment volume index exceeded SAR1.3 billion (USD347 million). Confirming Saudi Arabia’s ability to attract fintech companies, a report by Magnitt recently revealed that one out of every four deals executed in Saudi Arabia went to a start-up fintech company. Fintech and F&B start-ups combined accounted for 44% of investments.

What specific actions is Saudi Payments taking to cement the Kingdom’s position as the region’s dominant fintech market?

mada, SADAD, Sarie, and Esal are innovative payment systems consisting of procedures and operating rules that govern the transfer of funds between the members participating in these systems, which was previously exclusive for banks as service providers. The vision upon which Saudi Payments is based is to be the national pillar of digital payments. Our main task is to enable the payment system in Saudi Arabia to provide safe, reliable, and innovative basic services that achieve compatibility and easy access. 6

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