Exploring the Fintech Industry in Saudi Arabia:
Financial technology is undoubtedly one of the most lucrative markets in the world. In today’s technological era, more companies are developing innovations to solve users’ problems. Fintech startups are increasing yearly, and investors are eager to fund the solutions created by these companies. Needless to say, the financial technology sector is here to stay.
Over the years, Saudi Arabia has gained a major spot in the global fintech environment. The Kingdom has been intentional about attracting fintech companies and creating an appropriate commercial environment for such companies to thrive. Besides this, Saudi Arabia is well-positioned to have a booming fintech sector. The Kingdom has a thriving youth population with high internet penetration. This combination mainly contributes to the increasing demand for fintech services.
According to reports, the Kingdom’s fintech sector grew by a whopping 79% in 2022. This huge growth indicates that the Saudi Arabian fintech sector is growing fast and will likely overtake other fintech sectors across the Middle East. However, this growth did not happen overnight. It is largely a product of concerted efforts by the government of Saudi Arabia.
Governmental Efforts to Boost the Fintech Industry
In recent years, the Saudi Arabian fintech industry has experienced immense improvement. According to Mordor Intelligence, the Kingdom’s fintech market is expected to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 15% by 2027. The value of fintech transactions in Saudi Arabia also peaked at $20 billion in 2019, and it is projected to reach $33 billion this year. The trend is similar on the funding side.
There are currently 147 fintech firms actively operating in Saudi Arabia. Many of these companies conducted successful funding rounds in the past year. According to reports, Saudi Arabian fintech startups raised $400 million in 2022. This indicates that more investors are interested in the Saudi Arabian startup landscape.
However, governmental efforts toward the fintech sector are equally significant. The Saudi Arabian government created the Financial Sector Development Program in 2017 to strengthen financial institutions and enhance the Kingdom’s financial sector. The Fintech Strategy Implementation Plan was launched afterward to increase the number of fintech companies to 525 by 2030. The strategy also aims to increase Saudi Arabia’s digital payment transactions by 70% by 2025.
Additionally, Saudi Arabia’s Central Bank established a Regulatory Sandbox initiative to attract fintech companies and allow them to provide innovative services in the Saudi Arabian market. The Sandbox was open to both local and international fintech firms. It also demonstrated Saudi Arabia’s commitment to increasing fintech participation within its territory. The Central Bank recently permitted four fintech companies to operate under its Regulatory Sandbox. Through this grant, the number of fintech firms operating under the Sandbox increased to 42. Some of the firms have obtained full authorization and are currently licensed by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency.
Saudi Arabia is undoubtedly a suitable location for fintech activities to thrive. In coming years, the Kingdom will likely experience a surge in fintech services offered to residents.