Daily Dash: 70 Percent Of Payments In Saudi Arabia Are Now Digital, Says Central Bank

April 4, 2024
A boom in digital payments has helped Saudi Arabia to hit a non-cash transactions target two years ahead of schedule, and Revolut has secured a licence to operate in Mexico.

70 Percent Of Payments In Saudi Arabia Are Now Digital, Says Central Bank

The Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) has published new data showing that, in 2023, 70 percent of retail consumer payments were made using digital channels, up from 62 percent in 2022. 

In total, Saudi Arabia’s national payment systems processed 10.8bn transactions in 2023, up from 8.7bn in 2022.

“In recent years, the Kingdom has witnessed rapid growth in the adoption of electronic payments as a result of an integrated, strategic and collaborative approach across the financial community,” said the central bank.

“The evolving cost-effective and reliable e-payment system helps enhance transaction efficiency and supports financial stability.”

Under Saudi Arabia’s National Fintech Strategy, the country had set itself a target of ensuring that 70 percent of payments by individuals are made using digital channels by 2025 — a target that has been hit two years ahead of schedule.

Revolut Obtains Licence To Operate In Mexico

The Comisión Nacional Bancaria y de Valores (CNBV) has approved a licence for Revolut México to operate in the country.

Revolut México is required to start with a capital of 1.44bn pesos ($8.7m), which will increase to 1.81bn pesos ($10.9m) before commencing operations. 

According to media reports, these financial requirements are comparable to other recently approved fintechs operating in the country.

In other key markets, including the UK, Revolut is still struggling to obtain a banking licence.

Last month, new UK CEO Francesca Carlesi said the company is “determined” to get a UK licence, although last year Revolut said the approval of its application was “imminent”.

HSBC Launches First Gold-Backed Token In Hong Kong

HSBC has announced the launch of HSBC Gold Token in Hong Kong, claiming to be the first bank to issue a real-world asset-backed token.

The HSBC Gold Token is a digital token that runs on a distributed ledger, and is backed by physical gold bars kept in HSBC Vault.

The token is priced in Hong Kong dollars and can be traded at any time, but trades placed outside Hong Kong or London business hours will be charged a higher fee (5 percent) than usual (2 percent).

Customers cannot redeem their tokens for physical gold, however, even in the case of insolvency of HSBC, the bank notes in a "Key Facts" statement.

To purchase HSBC Gold Token, customers need to have an active HSBC HK Investment Account and a Hong Kong residential address registered with the bank.

Turkey Increases Instant Payment Caps

The Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey (TCMB) has introduced new changes to FAST, the country’s real-time payments system.

As of April 4, 2024, transaction amount limits on FAST will be increased to 100,000 lira ($3,100) for money transfers and 250,000 lira ($7,800) for workplace payments made using the FAST-TR QR Code.

Developed by the central bank, the FAST system first launched on December 18, 2020.

It was initially rolled out under a pilot scheme where only bank employees were able to send payments, before a full launch for all customers on January 8, 2021.

Australia's Financial Markets Infrastructure Bill Passes First Reading

The Financial Markets Infrastructure Bill has passed its first reading in the Australian House of Representatives.

The bill establishes a crisis management regime for financial market infrastructure licensees (FMIs) in Australia and contains provisions that allocate powers to the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) to resolve crises in FMIs.

These include new powers to appoint a statutory manager and to take on other managerial functions of licensees.

The bill also provides crisis mitigation powers to the RBA, such as new powers to direct FMIs to reduce systemic risk and to require FMIs to submit situation reports and compliance reports.

Further, it imposes sustainability requirements on FMIs, including an obligation to produce a sustainability report.

The Australian Treasury first launched a consultation on proposals to reform the financial market infrastructure in December last year. 

India’s UPI Is Now Accepted In Nepal

The international arm of the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has announced that UPI payments in Nepal are now live.

UPI has launched in Nepal through a partnership between the NPCI and Fonepay Payment Service, Nepal’s largest payment network.

The partnership will allow Indian citizens to make QR code-based person-to-merchant (P2M) transactions in Nepal wherever Fonepay is accepted.

Likewise, Nepalese visitors to India will be able to make P2M transactions using Fonepay wherever UPI is accepted.

As covered by Vixio, the expansion of UPI to Nepal follows similar launches in Sri Lanka and Mauritius, which took place in February this year.

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