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Saudi Arabia Cards & Payments Market Report

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  • Published Date: June 2021


A comprehensive analysis of the cards, payments and consumer banking market in Saudi Arabia, with acute commentary backed by deep data.
The speed of development in the Saudi Arabia card payments market is striking. Since our last update, faster payments, mobile payments and BNPL have all been introduced, e-commerce has soared, fintechs have been licensed, neobanks have started up and cash usage has continued its downward trend.
A sizeable population of young and internet-savvy consumers means untapped opportunities are growing fast: credit-card, mobile payment and instalment-financing market positions are all there for the taking by forward-thinking entrants mindful of local customs.

This is what you will learn from this report:

How the financial sector is being radically transformed.
Why cash is unlikely to regain its lead over cards.
What the new ATM/POS system makes possible.
Why cash-on-delivery has tumbled.
Which revenue streams are most profitable.


  • Saudi Arabia's payments market is developing rapidly. New payments infrastructure and more open regulation have sparked the fintech sector and consumers are turning away from cash to cards and mobile payments.
  • An entire programme of the ongoing Vision 2030 policy drive is devoted to the development of the financial sector, with the progress made towards a cashless society touted as the top achievement on that front so far.
  • In 2020, the central bank introduced additional licensing guidelines for digital-only banks to build a more robust regulatory framework for its fintech ecosystem.
  • At around 80 percent in 2020, the level of bank account penetration here is among the highest in the region.
  • In 2020 the kingdom took first place globally for 5G speed and fifth place globally for average internet speeds.
  • The number of POS terminals has more than trebled since 2015, of which almost all are now contactless.
  • Cash and cards are the most popular payment methods, with the latter overtaking the former in 2020, a year in which the contactless limit increased to $80.
  • Debit card POS usage is growing rapidly, with purchase volume surpassing the value of ATM withdrawals for the first time in 2020.
  • By the third quarter of 2020, mobile payments accounted for a quarter of transactions at the point of sale, almost five times what it had been the year before.
  • A historic banking merger between NCB and Samba is creating the country's largest banking entity: Saudi National Bank.

Saudi Arabia Payments Research | Report Contents

Demographics and the economy.
Payments environment.
Cards market.
Mobile payments.
Profit pool.
The networks.
Key retail banks and issuers.
Acquiring and processing.
Online acquiring.
Regulatory and other cards market information.

Saudi Arabia Country Report Data Tables
(All 2015-24F unless otherwise stated)

1: Demographic and economic indicators.
2: Ownership of key consumer devices.
3: Internet usage by population.
4: Access points: 2015-22E.
5: Account penetration.
6: Consumer payment trends: 2015-22F.
7: B2C e-commerce payment methods: 2015-22F.
8: Total card payment metrics.
9: Contactless card metrics.
10: Credit card numbers.
11: Total credit card metrics.
12: Credit card profitability indicators.
13: Debit card numbers.
14: Debit card metrics.
15: Pre-paid/e-money card metrics.
16: Mobile proximity payment metrics: 2018-24F.
17: Mobile P2P payments: 2021E-2024F.
18: Pofit pool: credit card numbers, billed volumes, oustandings, interest incomes, net interest revenues, merchant revenues, card fee revenues, other non-interest incomes, total revenues, net credit losses, operating expenses, total expenses, pre-tax profits, merchant service charges, rollover rates, APR, net credit losses to outstandings, operating costs to revenues, ROA (pre-tax profits to outstandings).

(All below 2015-22F unless otherwise stated)

19: Networks' credit card market shares.
20: Networks' credit card data numbers.
21: Networks' credit card billed volume.
22: Networks' number of credit card transactions.
23: Networks' average credit card transaction value.
24: Credit card interchange fees by network.
25: Networks' debit card market shares.
26: Networks' debit card data numbers.
27: Networks' debit card billed volume.
28: Networks' number of debit card transactions.
29: Networks' average debit card transaction value.
30: Debit card interchange fees by network.
31: Key credit card issuers market shares by credit card numbers: 2016-21E.
32: Key issuers market shares in credit card outstandings: 2016-21E.
33: Key debit card issuers market shares by debit card numbers: 2016-21E.
34: Merchant acquirer credit card market share: 2021E.
35: Credit card merchant service charges: 2015-24F.
36: Merchant acquirer debit card market share: 2021E.
37: Debit card merchant service charges: 2015-24F.
38: Credit card issuer/issuing processor relationships: -
39: Credit card acquirer/acquiring processor relationships: -
40: Credit card issuing processor market shares by card numbers: 2021E.
41: Credit card acquiring processor market shares by the number of POS transactions: 2021E.
42: Online merchant acquirer market share: 2021E.

Saudi Arabia Country Report | Selected Extracts

This report examines how Saudi Arabia's payments market is developing so quickly. A new payments infrastructure and more open regulation have boosted the fintech sector and prompted consumers to drop cash payments for cards and mobile transactions. In 2020, the central bank introduced licensing guidelines for digital-only banks in a bid to build a more robust regulatory framework for the country's fintech sector. And much of Saudi's ongoing Vision 2030 policy drive is focused on its financial sector, with the progress toward a cashless society high on the agenda.

Demographics and Economy
Roughly ten million expatriates live and work in Saudi Arabia, making it one of the largest in terms of the expatriate population alongside the UAE, US, India and Russia.

Payments Environment
The Saudi authorities want to reach a digital payment target of 70% of all transactions by 2030, which seems increasingly likely if current growth trajectories are maintained.

Payment Cards Market
Saudi Arabia differs from most Gulf countries in that debit cards are more widespread and more used for payments than credit cards. Of the total cards in issue in the country, debit cards account for 88%. They also account for 83% of purchase volume.

Mobile Payments
Mobile payments were late to arrive in Saudi Arabia, partly due to the fact that contactless technology was officially launched only in late 2016, however, the kingdom and its young, tech-savvy population are wasting no time in catching up.

Profit Pool
Saudi Arabia's credit cards industry is highly profitable with a profit per card of close to $100 according to Verisk Financial Research's profit pool model.

Card Networks
Saudi Arabia has a competitive credit cards market, with three of the major international brands – Visa, Mastercard and American Express – having a presence. Although debit cards issued by banks are branded as either Visa or Mastercard, all domestic debit card ATM and POS transactions are channelled through the local switch: Mada.

Key Retail Banks and Issuers
A total of 30 retail banks are licensed by the central bank, of which 13 are local banks and the remainder branches of foreign banks. The country's retail banking market is dominated by the five largest banks, which collectively held 73% of the credit cards in issue in 2020.

Acquiring and Processing
Merchant-acquiring operations are heavily subsidised by the banks' credit card issuing and corporate banking business. Most banks in the country outsource issuing and acquiring processing to specialist providers.

Online Acquiring
Overall the Gulf region, and particularly Saudi, is ripe for e-commerce and m-commerce expansion: high disposable incomes, deep internet penetration, enthusiastic uptake of smartphones and a young population provides all of the ingredients required for a healthy e-commerce market.

Regulatory and Markets Information
Supervised by the central bank, the Saudi Credit Bureau began operations in 2004. Known as SIMAH, it provides consumer credit information to its members in the kingdom. The establishment of SIMAH has played a significant role in assessing credit risks for individual borrowers.

Saudi Arabia Payments Report | Entities Referenced

Al Rajhi Bank
Alawwal Bank
Alinma Bank
American Express
Apple Pay
Arab Bank
Arab Financial Services
Arab National Bank
Bank Al Bilad
Bank AlJazira
Bank of China
Banque Saudi Fransi
BinDawood Holding
British Bank of the Middle East
Central Department of Statistics and Information
Communications and Information Technology Commission
Council of Economic and Development Affairs
Financial Sector Development Program
General Organisation for Social Insurance
Gulf Cooperation Council
Gulf International Bank
International Monetary Fund
International Telecommunication Union
King Abdullah Economic City
Mada Atheer
Mada Pay
Morgan Stanley Capital International
National Commercial Bank
NatWest Group
Riyad Bank
Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority
Saudi Arabian Riyal Interbank Express
Saudi British Bank
Saudi Central Bank
Saudi Credit Bureau
Saudi Investment Bank
Saudi National Bank
Saudi Payments
Saudi Payments Network
Saudi Telecom
Standard Chartered Bank
Trade Bank of Iraq
Vision 2030
Wage Protection System
Western Union
World Bank


Reports deliver invaluable market and competitor intelligence on payments cards, e-money, acquiring/processing, retail banking, and consumer credit throughout the Middle East. Analysts and researchers use both primary and secondary source data and conduct in-depth interviews with senior industry executives and Middle East experts.

See more Middle East Country Reports or explore the full range of cards & payments reports available for markets worldwide or view the latest updates.

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