Saudi Telecom’s digital payments business plans Gulf expansion, says CEO

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The digital payments business of Saudi Arabia’s Saudi Telecom Company (STC), stc pay, is in talks with Gulf regulators to seek approval to operate in the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Bahrain, its CEO said on Monday.

STC said on Saturday that Western Union, the world’s largest money transfer company, has acquired a 15 percent stake in stc pay for $200 million, valuing the business at $1.3 billion.

“It is - God willing - next year, but is subject to their regulatory approvals,” Ahmed Alenazi said of the planned expansion into the UAE, Kuwait and Bahrain.

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He said that Egypt was also being discussed, though the Gulf nations were the immediate target. Asked about other markets, such as India, Pakistan and the Philippines, Alenazi said that stc pay would “follow the money.”

“We have to add value to the ecosystem. We are not looking just to be a regular player that comes with the same approach. We are looking to be innovative,” he said, declining to detail the approach.

Alenazi declined to comment on the company’s financials or growth, only saying that growth has been “massive” and that stc pay has 4.5 million active users, with 500,000 people logging into to the application every day.

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Saudi Telecom pay is the first fintech company licensed by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority, the Saudi central bank.

Alenazi said the business is also hoping to become the kingdom’s first licensed digital bank, allowing it to offer additional services such as lending.

Alenazi declined to say whether stc pay plans to go public at some point in the future, saying that would be up to its shareholders.

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