“Attractive environment, sustainably growing”
Since the 1970s economical leap in Saudi Arabia that paved the way for the country’s economy to bloom and become as attractive as it’s today to business and investment -although it was basically dependent on the sector, the Kingdom has been present to experience every new trend and thus construct the needed regulations for a seamless governing process and a better return on the economy and citizens’ lives.
Today, Saudi Arabia’s entrepreneurial ecosystem is considered to be one of the most attractive ecosystems for investment and for businesses that are starting off or expanding to the kingdom, especially the FinTech market.
Here are some key reasons answering the question “Why should FinTech startups start or expand to Saudi Arabia”:
- FinTech is considered to be a leading sector where innovation can vastly thrive, that’s why Saudi Arabia keeps constantly reforming the regulations to promote the ease of doing business.
- One of the 2030 vision’s objectives is improving the quality of life and enhancing the economy, and that makes the kingdom’s ecosystem attractive for FinTech businesses for its alignment with the vision’s aspirations.
- The FinTech market is considered to be very new and young, which opens the doors for startups to grow and compete.
- The strategic geographical location the kingdom has between three different continents.
- The initiation of the FinTech Saudi initiative by SAMA to provide the needed support and guidance related to the FinTech sector.
In the above reasons, we can see the government growing interest in this sector, and the massive efforts put to regulate and govern its activities, and so it has assigned main regulators with specific responsibilities to oversee.
These regulators are:
- Saudi Central Bank, that’s referred to as (SAMA)
- Capital Market Authority (CMA)
- Ministry of Commerce (MC)
- Ministry of Investment of Saudi Arabia (MISA)
- Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT)
- Small and Medium Enterprises General Authority (Monshaat)
- Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC)
- National Cybersecurity Authority (NCA)
- Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA)
- Financial Services Development Program (FSDP)
In this article, we’ll be discussing the two main regulators that are foreseeing the to-be licensed FinTech activities, which are the Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) and the Capital Market Authority (CMA).
Saudi Central Bank (SAMA)
The central bank specializes in regulating Payment related businesses, such as:
- Banking services.
- Credit bureaus.
- Payment providers.
- Payment gateways.
- Digital savings associations.
- Digital banking products.
- Intelligent cash management.
- Peer-to-peer lending and crowdfunding.
- Virtual currency.
Get to know more about Saudi Central Bank regulatory testing environment (Sandbox) and license framework, and to get the application form, click here.
Capital Market Authority (CMA)
On the other hand, CMA focuses on the activities related to capital investment and equity, such as:
- Social trading.
- Investing platforms.
- arranging for the offering of securities and investment in debt instruments.
- Equity-based crowdfunding platforms.
Read more about the CMA license, and get the CMA license application form Here.
The Non-Regulated FinTech Activities
Some FinTech activities don’t require SAMA or CMA approvals, so the launch of such activities can be faster. Basically, these activities are the ones that don’t involve monetary transaction whatsoever, and here we mention some:
- Aggregation of publicly Available Financial Information, such as market data, insurance, and financial companies’ information.
- Business conducting tools, such as expenses tracker, cloud accounting software, VAT tax return filing tools, and automated invoice issuance software – as long as they don’t involve money transactional processes.
- Back-office and bank operations tools that help financial institutions in leveraging their customer service, reduce costs, and speed up their internal operations, such as internal messaging services, automated loan processing tools, API developments that allow banks to communicate with third parties, and applications that allow circulating and sharing different documents between banks.
- Bank’s customer experience enhancement tools that comply with customer data protection regulation and SAMA’s guidelines. Such as chatbots, vouchers and rewards programs augmented reality, and virtual reality software.
- Personal financial management solutions, like budgeting and expenses management apps, personal saving apps, and tools for inheritance planning.
- RegTech or regulation technology, such as data analytics tools, and the applications automating the process of financial institutions’ internal audit.
- Gamification, like applications providing simulation of stock market trading, or the ones encouraging users to save money for particular defined goals.
What if you’re still unsure if your FinTech business involves regulated activities?
In that case, FinTech Saudi has developed a “Fintech Regulatory Assessment Tool” that can be used to understand the regulatory procedures for FinTech activities, and if you’re still in doubt, you may contact FinTech Saudi for further assistance.
So, what about the international FinTech startups that are interested in entering or expanding to Saudi Arabia’s market?
FinTech Saudi has discussed 4 different scenarios to expand to the market of Saudi Arabia:
- Establish a subsidiary of an existing FinTech company.
- Start a new FinTech company through the Ministry of Investment’s entrepreneurship license.
- License your technology to a KSA-based startup.
- Appoint a sales agent.
You can read more details about these four scenarios and obtain the one that’s most suitable for you on the FinTech Access Guide developed by FinTech Saudi.
Guess we’ll never be done with FinTech, and this is just the start for a bright future where financials are done seamlessly to serve the quality of life and not the other way around.
Contact the right entity to get the needed support and consultation related to the sandbox and licenses:
FinTech Saudi: firstname.lastname@example.org
Saudi Central Bank: Sandbox@sama.gov.sa
Capital Market Authority: FinTech.ExPermit@cma.org.sa