Electronic payments overtake cash in Saudi Arabia in 2021

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The study indicated that - for the first time in the Kingdom - cash is no longer the most used method of payment by individuals
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  • The Saudi Central Bank said a study revealed that electronic payments increased from 44 percent in 2019 to 62 percent by volume in 2021
  • In the business sector, the share of electronic payments reached a substantial 84 percent of all payments in 2021

The Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) said a study revealed that electronic payments increased from 44 percent in 2019 to 62 percent of all payments by volume in 2021.

The study, conducted to measure payment methods (cash and non-cash) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia during 2021 covering individuals, businesses and the government sector, said that electronic transactions in the year represent 94 percent of all payments in terms of value.

A key objective of the Financial Sector Development Program – under the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 – is the promotion of digital payment solutions to transform the Kingdom into a less-cash society by reaching a target of 70 percent non-cash payments by 2025.

The extensive study covered the use of payment methods across the market and gives detailed insights into the most used instruments, by whom and for which purchases.

The study showed that across all user groups the use of electronic payments exceeded the use of cash.

The study indicated that – for the first time in the Kingdom – cash is no longer the most used method of payment by individuals, as electronic payments of individuals have grown significantly in 2021.

In the business sector, the share of electronic payments reached a substantial 84 percent of all payments in 2021, compared to 51 percent in 2019 (a growth of 65 percent over two years).

The study also revealed that the government sector has almost completely converted to electronic payment methods of all outward payments to individuals, business establishments or other government agencies.

The Saudi Central Bank, through its role in the financial sector development program, seeks to encourage the use of the fastest and most efficient electronic payment methods.

The Saudi Central Bank is making efforts in the development of national and international payments ecosystems, including technical, operational infrastructure, regulatory and legislative adjustments.

The Payments Usage study report is available on SAMA’s website.

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