Rapid Growth in Saudi Electronic Payments and E-commerce

Technology Author: EqualOcean News Apr 17, 2024 06:23 PM (GMT+8)

In 2023, Saudi Arabia saw a significant increase in electronic payments, with retail consumer e-payments jumping from 62% in 2022 to 70%, according to data from the Saudi Central Bank (SAMA). This growth is attributed to a large increase in transactions processed through the national payment system, totaling 10.8 billion transactions in 2023 compared to 8.7 billion the previous year. This aligns with the objectives of the financial sector development plan under Saudi Vision 2030, where retail consumer electronic payments are a key performance indicator.

The fintech sector in Saudi Arabia is thriving, especially in electronic payments. Last September, a senior official from the Saudi Central Bank highlighted the rapid growth of the fintech industry by noting the share of digital payments, which reached 70% in 2023. During the "Seamless Saudi Arabia 2023" digital conference in Riyadh, SAMA's Deputy Governor for Supervision and Technology, Khalid Al-Dhaher, emphasized the growth in Saudi's financial sector since the launch of Vision 2030, noting that by the end of the second quarter of 2023, the number of fintech companies had reached 183, achieving 80% of the 2025 target of 230 companies.

Saudi Arabia's e-commerce market is also experiencing rapid growth. According to SAMA, the total value of e-commerce sales using Mada cards and point of sale transactions was SAR 770.87 billion (approximately USD 205.55 billion), not including transactions made through Visa, Mastercard, and other credit cards. The increase in e-commerce demand resulted in a significant 28% rise in sales, reaching SAR 157 billion, while transaction volume surged by 43%. This trend underscores the critical role of technology in driving transformative changes in the transaction patterns of Saudi consumers.

Saudi Vision 2030 includes the development of e-commerce as a key path to economic diversification. In 2022, the Saudi Ministry of Commerce issued over 30,000 e-commerce operating licenses. In December 2023, the UAE also enacted the Modern Technology Trade Law (TMTM Law) to regulate and promote the sustainable development of the e-commerce industry, part of a broader push to enhance regional economic development and international competitiveness.

Currently, the Middle East is one of the fastest-growing e-commerce markets globally. The e-commerce market size in the Middle East and North Africa reached USD 37 billion in 2022, a 14% increase from the previous year, and is expected to grow to USD 57 billion by 2026. The UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Israel are the largest e-commerce markets in the region, accounting for about 72% of the total regional market size. Although the Saudi e-commerce market is rapidly rising, compared to the trillion-dollar scales of the Chinese and American markets, there remains a vast space for new businesses and merchants to fill due to the predominance of standard products and a lack of specialized SKU categories in platform offerings.