Saudi financial regulator grants licences for fintech projects
Saudi Arabia’s securities regulator has approved its first ever financial technology licences to two companies that will offer crowdfunding services.
The Capital Market Authority (CMA) granted fintech licences to two companies – Scopeer and Manafa Capital – to create equity crowdfunding platforms.
Based on these permits, the CMA said, both Scopeer and Manafa Capital “will be able to experiment the crowdfunding FinTech which allows investors to participate in funding small and medium size enterprises in exchange for shares in such enterprises”.
Saudi Vision 2030
Granting these licences are part of official efforts to attract new tech-based industries to the kingdom as it attempts to reduce its reliance on oil exports – all of which is being enabled through its Saudi Vision 2030 programme.
The reform programme hopes to broaden capital markets by helping entrepreneurs with funding for new ventures, and the CMA expects to grant further licences later in the year.
Saudi’s central bank, the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) has also thrown its weight behind the programme to help develop a new “fintech ecosystem” that will see Riyadh become a leading hub for new technologies such as blockchain, cloud computing and artificial intelligence.
The FintechSaudi initiative was launched in May. SAMA governor Dr Ahmed bin Abdulkarim Alkholifey said at the time: “Although ATMs, credit cards, online banking services and cellular phones are all products that use fintech, today we are witnessing tangible progress in the fintech field.
“This progress is driven by the growth in the use of big data and smart phones, the increase in demand for financial services that suit consumers’ personal aspirations, and the appearance of new technical trends such as artificial intelligence and blockchain, which will lead to a major shift in the provision of fintech services.”