Saudi Arabia has officially launched a new electronic-payment system, designed to make transactions faster and easier. As Hayley Platt reports the new e-payment system provides customers with additional services, such as a contactless payment system and receiving cash back while shopping.
It's part of everyday life for many in the West. Now Saudi Arabia is catching up - it's carried out major modifications to its Payment Network System in an attempt to modernise the kingdom's banking system. Abdulaziz al-Fruiah is Vice Governor of Saudi's central bank . (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) VICE GOVERNOR OF SAUDI ARABIAN MONETARY AGENCY, ABDULAZIZ AL-FRUIAH, SAYING: "It will be called: 'Mada for each day', that means it is with us 24 hours, seven days a week, 365 days a year." As well as contactless payments the system also has a cash back facility, allowing shoppers to withdraw up to 400 Saudi Riyal - that's around $100. It will connect ATM's to point-of-sale terminals and encourage greater use of bank cards, meaning less reliance on cash. That could help counter cash smuggling. Abdulmalik al-Sheikh runs the payment system at the central bank. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) GENERAL MANAGER OF DEPARTMENT OF PAYMENT SYSTEM AT SAUDI ARABIAN MONETARY AGENCY, ABDULMALIK AL-SHEIKH, SAYING: "Last year, there were 360 million transactions worth 170 billion riyal via point-of-sale. This year, we are expecting POS sales to top 200 billion riyal with further growth next year." Officials hope the new system will cut costs for banks and shops as well as make spending easier for millions of consumers. It's also expected to lead to withdrawals from ATM's without cards.