Saudi Vision 2030 ‘turbo-charging’ digital economy, e-commerce: Expert

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Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 is “turbo-charging” the Kingdom’s thriving digital economy as it enters a high-growth stage in digital payments and e-commerce, Checkout.com’s Senior Vice President for the region told Al Arabiya English on Thursday.

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Saudi Arabia is “right on track” with achieving its objectives under Vision 2030 – a transformative economic and social reform blueprint launched and initiated by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in 2016 – of increasing the share of non-cash transactions to 70 percent in 2025, Remo Giovanni Abbondandolo said.

In a report released by the digital payments company on Thursday, data revealed that 91 percent of Saudis regularly shop online, with 14 percent saying they do so at least once a day, proving that the e-commerce trends brought on by the pandemic are here to stay.

The Checkout.com annual report, which tracks year-on-year data to better understand customer behaviors and overall market trends, confirmed that over the last three years, Saudi Arabia’s e-commerce and fintech sectors have seen a “great boom” and that its digital payments ecosystem is growing.

“Electronic payments are now exceeding cash for the first time in Saudi Arabia since 2021. It is clear that Saudi consumers are moving in the direction of digital payments and that the country is steadily and sustainably working toward achieving its Vision 2030 financial goals,” Abbondandolo said.

“Saudi Arabia is turbo-charging its digital economy under Vision 2030, [and] this is not only clear from our report data, but also from our on-ground conversations with customers and merchants alike. According to our 2022 report, e-commerce in Saudi Arabia has settled into a stable, high-growth era, with increased opportunities for e-commerce players.”

Multiple factors seem to have contributed to this e-commerce boom in the Kingdom, the most major one being the extremely high rate of internet penetration which is at around 93 percent.

As Saudi consumers spend more time and money online, their appetite for e-commerce continues to grow. The company expects a continued incline in consumer preferences for innovative new payment methods ranging from Buy Now, Pay Later to crypto and digital wallets.

Around 44 percent of 18 to 40-year-olds have held digital assets such as crypto, stablecoins and non-fungible tokens (NFTs), according to the report.

In addition, 54 percent of the same age group said they would like to pay for goods and services with crypto or stablecoins, showing a significant appetite for on-chain transactions and a desire to use digital currencies.

“The future is very bright for digital payments indeed, with 78 percent of consumers in Saudi saying they will maintain or increase their current level of e-commerce spending into 2023.”

“Financial inclusion, innovation, and economic development are cornerstones of the Saudi Vision 2030. The Financial Sector Development Program, which is implementing the finance related aspects of the vision, is working on developing a sustainable and thriving economic sector, as well as increasing the share of non-cash transactions from 36 percent in 2019 to 70 percent in 2025,” he added.

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