Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority taps Deloitte to build fintech hub

28 May 2018 4 min. read

The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority is set to build a fintech ecosystem in the Gulf Coast country in collaboration with Deloitte Middle East. The Big Four firm will attempt to position capital city Riyadh as a fintech hub rivalling those in Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, and Dubai.

In 2016, Saudi Arabia announced its ambitious Vision 2030 program with an aim to move the country away from its economic dependency on oil – which accounts for 40% of real GDP, not including the portion of the economy dependent on oil distribution. The programme also seeks to improve health, education, infrastructure, and tourism.

The bold plan hopes to transform Saudi Arabia into a geographically well-positioned hub connecting Asia, Europe, and Africa. There are three ‘pillars’ to the Vision 2030 program: the first is the fostering of a ‘vibrant society’, with more funding and improvements to cities, culture, sports, and heritage sites. The second is ‘a thriving economy,’ which aims to boost employment, women in the workforce, foreign investments, and non-oil exports. And the third pillar is ‘an ambitious nation,’ which, pivotally, seeks to create non-oil revenues, and advancements in e-government and government effectiveness.

As part of its bid to diversify the economy and attract investments to non-oil projects, the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA – Saudi Arabia’s central bank) has brought in Big Four consultancy Deloitte to help build a fintech ecosystem. The collaboration hopes to position capital Riyadh as a fintech rival to the local hubs already established in Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, and Dubai.Saudi Arabia hires Deloitte to help build fintech hub in RiyadhFintech is a hot market – like most ‘disruptive’ digital services – attracting $31 billion in funding in 2017. By building a fintech ecosystem, Saudi Arabia hopes to create jobs and attract investment not entirely dependent on its oil industry. With fintech expected to keep booming in the future, displacing traditional financial service providers, the industry seems like a good choice to build a base for. The new ecosystem will also support Saudi Arabia’s desire to be a world-leading cashless, digital economy.

“We are very excited for the launch of Fintech Saudi, which will be an important catalyst in the development of a thriving FinTech industry in the Kingdom and the region,” commented Ziad Al-Yousef, Director General of Payment Systems at SAMA. “Saudi Arabia truly has the right ingredients to host a FinTech hub, not least of all because of its burgeoning and tech-savvy youth.”

“The work of FinTech Saudi fits within the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 objectives, particularly in increasing financial inclusion and the prominence of small and medium enterprises. In the coming weeks and months, I am confident that we will see a positive uptick in innovation and the growth of an active FinTech ecosystem,” added Al-Yousef.

Deloitte will support SAMA in the creation of the ‘Fintech Saudi’ ecosystem, creating infrastructure to aid the growth of fintech and attract talent. The firm will oversee the overall strategy of the fintech ecosystem, while also also building a ‘fintech incubator/accelerator space’ to help launch capable new enterprises. The consultancy will also develop a regulatory sandbox to help test new fintech ideas and concepts.

“Deloitte has an excellent track record building FinTech ecosystems, and in producing cutting-edge thought leadership on the state of digital financial services around the world,” remarked Punit Renjen, Deloitte Global CEO. “Our global reach provides us with strong relationships with key stakeholders in the broader FinTech ecosystem and enables us to draw FinTech-related insights and expertise from our extensive network of SMEs. This agreement will foster growth, innovation, and collaboration across the financial services industry in KSA.”

Established in the region in 1926, Deloitte now has 25 offices across 14 countries in the Middle East. The accounting and consulting firm has been a Tier 1 tax advisor in the GCC region since 2010. In related news, Deloitte recently announced the establishment of a Digital Delivery Centre in Saudi Arabia with the support of the Saudi Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, which is keen to leverage the firm's digital expertise to boost economic diversification efforts in the Kingdom.