SAMA to launch new 24/7 instant payments system

RIYADH (ArabNews): The Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) on Thursday announced the launch date for a new electronic instant payments system designed to make the Kingdom less dependent on cash.

Following the successful completion of trials, the digital transactions scheme will be activated with participating banks on Feb. 21, according to Asharq Business.

SAMA will supervise the new system which, it said, would contribute to the country’s economic development by increasing the speed and efficiency of financial transactions in the corporate and retail sectors.

Other benefits would include improved transparency of payments between companies and individuals, and options for customers to carry out immediate financial transfers between accounts in local banks, with lower fees than current interbank transfers, the central bank added.

Talat Zaki Hafiz, an economist and board member of the Saudi Financial Association, told Arab News that the processing of local payments had previously been confined to banking business hours, which did not include weekends and holidays. Under the new system, transactions would be able to take place 24 hours a day, seven days a week, he said.

Recent figures showed that digital payment transactions in the Kingdom jumped by 75 percent last year as Saudis embraced online shopping in the wake of restrictions brought in to stop the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.