Saudi Arabia recorded 352 million real-time payment transactions in 2022 amid its push to modernize the country’s payments infrastructure to foster economic growth and financial inclusion.
According to a recent report published by the payment software provider ACI Worldwide in partnership with data analytics firm GlobalData, the Kingdom is expected to continue to lead the Middle East region, with real-time payment transactions forecast to climb to 1.2 billion in 2027, registering an annual growth of over 26 percent.
Real-time payments refer to financial transactions that are initiated and settled nearly instantaneously using digital infrastructure.
As Saudi Arabia is modernizing the national payment infrastructure, the majority of payments in the Kingdom are expected to be electronic in the next four years, with 7.4 percent being real-time payments and 48.6 percent other forms of electronic payments, the report added.
Santhosh Rao, senior vice president at ACI Worldwide, said: “With two-thirds of the population under the age of 25, real-time payments are going to continue to flourish and pave the way for more economic growth and financial prosperity across Saudi Arabia.”
The report credits much of the Kingdom’s real-time payments success to the Vision 2030 plan, which seeks to modernize and diversify the economy.
“As an early adopter of real-time payments infrastructure, the market has seen outstanding growth over the last few years, and this is only set to continue as the country focuses on its Vision 2030 agenda,” Rao added.
All these measures have seen Saudi Arabia breaking into the global top 10 for mobile wallet adoption, said the report, adding that 80 percent of consumers in the Kingdom stated being avid users of this payment method
“This can be partly attributed to the Kingdom’s response to COVID
-19, as the government urged consumers to adopt new forms of cashless payments,” it said.
Saudi Arabia’s major shift toward electronic payment comes as the Middle East region remains the fastest-growing real-time payments market globally, with transactions expected to grow from $675 million in 2022 to $2.6 billion by 2027.
The report added that governments and regulators in the Middle East are setting new mandates that will help facilitate the adoption process, with countries including the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, and Oman expected to launch local real-time schemes in the near future.