Saudi central bank governor opens fintech gathering in Riyadh

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Updated 26 February 2020

Saudi central bank governor opens fintech gathering in Riyadh

  • Near field technology and smartphones accounted for almost 57 percent of retail transactions in Saudi Arabia last year

LONDON: Saudi Arabia aspires to become a pioneering hub for the financial technology (fintech) sector, central bank governor Ahmed Alkholifey told the MEFTECH conference in Riyadh on Tuesday.

The two-day conference and exhibition brings together leading industry experts in digital payments, artificial intelligence and blockchain.

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is devising its strategic plan in the financial and development sector with the goal of becoming a pioneering hub for innovation in the financial technology sector,” Alkholifey said. “The Kingdom spares no effort in working to provide a suitable environment that motivates success, supported by top local and international partners. We at the Monetary Authority seek to promote digitization of financial services and advance digital transformation in the sector to meet the demands and goals of the financial sector development program, which is one of the programs of Saudi Vision 2030.”

E-payment transactions grew sharply last year with non-cash transactions rising to 36.2 percent, exceeding the general goal of the Saudi Vision 2030 which is 28 percent.

The overall value of transactions reached an unprecedented record level last year, exceeding SR287 billion — an increase of 24 percent on the previous year.

The number of transactions carried out via near-field communication technology also more than quadrupled to 918.5 million.

In fact near field technology and smartphones accounted for almost 57 percent of retail transactions.


China says it has sold nearly four billion masks abroad

Updated 05 April 2020

China says it has sold nearly four billion masks abroad

  • Beijing has encouraged factories to increase production of medical supplies
  • China has also exported 37.5 million pieces of protective clothing, 16,000 ventilators and 2.84 million COVID-19 testing kits since March 1
BEIJING: China has sold nearly four billion masks to foreign countries since March, officials said Sunday, as they tried to stem widespread fears over the quality of medical exports.
Despite Chinese cases dwindling, Beijing has encouraged factories to increase production of medical supplies as the pandemic kills over 60,000 globally and parts of the world face a protective equipment shortage.
China has exported 3.86 billion masks, 37.5 million pieces of protective clothing, 16,000 ventilators and 2.84 million COVID-19 testing kits since March 1, customs official Jin Hai said, with orders to more than 50 countries.
She added the country’s medical supply exports were valued at $1.4 billion.
However numerous nations — including the Netherlands, the Philippines, Croatia, Turkey and Spain — have complained about substandard or faulty medical products shipped from China.
Last week, the Dutch government recalled 600,000 masks out of a Chinese shipment of 1.3 million that did not meet quality standards.
China said the manufacturer “stated clearly that (the masks) are non-surgical.”
Spain also rejected thousands of rapid test kits sent by an unauthorized Chinese company after it found that they were unreliable last week.
Chinese officials hit back on Sunday at media reports over defective medical supplies, saying that they “did not reflect the full facts.”
“In reality there are various factors, such as China having different standards and different usage habits to other countries. Even improper use can lead to doubts over quality,” said Jiang Fan, an official with the Ministry of Commerce.
The comments echoed remarks from Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying, who over the past week has repeatedly urged Western media not to “politicize” or “hype up” the issue.
Earlier this week, Beijing tightened regulations for exported coronavirus medical equipment, requiring products to fulfil both domestic licensing standards and that of their destination countries.
China has also increased its production capacity of COVID-19 testing kits to over 4 million a day, said Zhang Qi, an official with the National Medical Products Administration.