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MEFTECH to change direction of financial sector: Alkholifey
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 24 - 02 - 2019

MEFTECH the leading banking, Fintech and payments conference and exhibition was opened by SAMA Governor Dr. Ahmed Abdulkarim Alkholifey at the Four Seasons Hotel here. Presenting the keynote address Ziad Al Yousef, managing director, Saudi Payments, highlighted the importance of the Fintech ecosystem in the Kingdom and digital payment innovation.
The two-day conference and exhibition MEFTECH initiated, in collaboration with mada, the national payment network, and SADAD Payment brings together leading industry experts who will address industry trends and issues around mobile payments in the region, digital transformation in banking, driving cashless payments, artificial intelligence within the e-commerce industry, impact of blockchain on payments and the future of digital currencies.
Alkholifey said: "We are pleased to celebrate the launch of the Middle East Financial Technology and Payments Exhibition MEFTECH in its 15th edition, which is being held for the second year in a row in Saudi Arabia. We continue to be one of the most important specialized conferences under one roof. MEFTECH will introduce new ideas and visions, and the review of techniques that will change the direction of the financial sector, which will pave the way for the adoption of future business models in banks, institutions and individuals to pay and receive payments."
"I would also like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the great cooperation we have seen from all relevant government sectors and local banks during the past period to achieve the initiatives of the Financial Sector Development Program associated with digital transformation, entrepreneurship support and financial technology development to meet the aspirations and objectives of the Vision 2030. The common goals, foremost of which is the elevation of our dear homeland."
"One of the main objectives of SAMA is to reduce the dependence on cash circulation through the continuous development of the national payment infrastructure to support and facilitate the transition to an electronic payment environment, which directly contributes to the promotion towards a cashless society, one of the objectives of the Financial Sector Development Program."
"Our meeting today at the MEFTECH conference and exhibition represents an extension of the Kingdom›s progress and development of its digital payment systems. This event provides an opportunity for dialogue between specialists and experts and to see the most important companies in this vital sector that touches our lives."
"Over the past two and a half decades, the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) has embarked on a process of developing payment systems in the Kingdom and enriching them with the latest technical technologies that contribute to the advancement of economic development in our country while ensuring the independence of these systems without being affected by political and international changes. We are proud to have handled over 2.3 billion transactions over the last year alone, with a total financial value exceeding SR50 trillion."
"In order to keep abreast of international best practice, the company established the Saudi Payments Company at the end of last year and was mandated to operate and manage the national payment systems. To play its enabling role to link all service providers, both from the banking sector and financial technology companies, to create a competitive environment between all parties in the interest of the end-user, and to enrich the digital payment sector as a whole. The role of the company will remain as a legislative body working to develop regulatory frameworks, update policies and licenses for the work of these parties, and monitor them to serve the objectives for which they were found, in particular to reduce the cash circulation in all commercial sectors."
"One of the most important advantages of effective payment systems is to harmonize its work according to the principle of interoperability and standardization among all parties involved. A term that has been widely circulated in the corridors of international organizations and reflects the importance of a common infrastructure that enables all ePay providers to deal with each other to enable the customer to use all channels and avoid creating an unconnected payment system that does not serve our approach to a non-cash society and to increase financial coverage."
"In order to achieve the objective of compatibility, Saudi Payments Company in the past period has worked to standardize the payments of smart devices through the QR code technology, which helps to enhance the levels of service, and facilitate, and make available through a unified window serving all customers e-portfolios depending on their brands. This will be followed by the development of an integrated payment environment that allows all parties to benefit from this service in accordance with the open loop payment environment. This means that both traders, individual customers and service providers will be centrally linked to complete payments through the same platform regardless of service provider."
"This move comes from the SAMA and the Saudi Payments Company to regulate the electronic payment sector and maintain the required safety standards in the light of the expected spread of this technology within the corporate segment and retail stores to continue the way forward by opening up new entities to participate within the national payment system and provide innovative customer services."
Al Yousef, in his keynote address, said: "In 2018 the payments in the Kingdom has seen significant strides in moving towards digital payments as part of the transformation initiatives and in line with Saudi Payments 2021 Strategy to drive the growth of cashless society. During 2018, existing schemes processed more electronic payments than ever before, while new schemes initiatives have laid the foundation for new and innovative payments solution and services. Micro-Payments have set the stage with Atheer based ‘micro-payments' growth reflects consumer adoption of digital payments as part of their daily life which will set the stage for the next innovative payments."
"Government ministries and departments have been leading the way in supporting Saudi Payments, and we expect the private sector to follow suit and continue the adoption of digital payments in 2019 and beyond. Saudi consumers are embracing online payments at a faster rate than ever before with a 40% month-on-month growth and in line with the global growth rate of adoption. While bill payments are dominated by select sectors, plans are afoot to engage with non-bank payment service providers to widen the reach and bring more payments into the digital fold. We believe the invoice handling space, and with the introduction of ESAL, will accelerate bill payments in the Kingdom."
In closing he said: "As the Kingdom embarks on implementing ‘Vision 2030' we in Saudi Payments realize our pivotal role in enabling innovative Payment solutions, supported by a resilient payment infrastructure that is truly world class and inclusive of all payment stakeholders. Saudi Payments, in collaboration with SAMA, will continue to engage with a diverse set of market stakeholders to shape and influence the future of Kingdom payments landscape. In 2019 we plan to continue to enhance and grow our existing payment services, and in addition, we will continue to bring new innovative solutions to the KSA market."
J.K. Khalil, general manager, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, Mastercard — payment and technology partner for MEFTECH said: "As a technology leader and trusted partner to the Saudi government, Mastercard is committed to supporting the growth of the Kingdom's digital economy through the deployment of cutting-edge fintech solutions. Visitors to Mastercard's Innovation Showcase at MEFTECH 2019 will have the opportunity to discover how emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, wearables and biometrics are redefining the payments space and shaping the future of commerce. Mastercard remains dedicated to leveraging these advancements in technology to support the Saudi government's drive to enable the Kingdom's digital future."
MEFTECH Director, Oliver Bickell added: "MEFTECH is the longest running Banking & Financial Technology event in the MENA Region and we thank mada and SADAD for initiating the second edition in the Kingdom. This year there are over 50 local, regional and international companies from across the Fintech ecosystem here in Saudi Arabia to participate in the event including our key partners STC Pay, EthisCrowd, Arabnet, FintechSaudi and Monsha'at. This year we have a dedicated Fintech Start-UP Zone presented by Fintech Galaxy for early stage start-ups from across the MENA region who are presenting their ideas or products to potential investors, Government officials and industry experts." _ SG

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