Saudi Arabia’s central bank has issued trading licences to 14 new fintech startup companies. All of the newly licenced fintech startups operate in either the lending space or in the payments space.

The expansion of the fintech sector is a priority for Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman under Saudi Arabia’ s Vision 2030 strategy. According to a report in Arabian Business, the newly licenced Saudi Arabian fintech startup companies include HalalaH, Saudi Digital Payments, Geidea, Bayan Payments, Saudi Post, Tap Payments, and Brightware.

The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) had licenced 7 fintech startup companies early this year. The 14 fintech startup companies licenced by Saudi Arabia brings the total of fintechs licenced this year to 21.

The Saudi Vision 2030 aims to make non-cash transactions 28 percent of the total transactions by next year. At this time non-cash transactions amount to just 5 percent of the total transactions.

The largest telecom operator in Saudi Arabia, STC had launched a digital wallet app STC Pay last year in October. STC Pay helps users pay restaurants and stores through a digital wallet that stores money digitally. It had gained 200,000 users by February this year.

HalalaH, the app licenced this week, will compete with STC Pay for customers. International players like Apple Pay are also operating in the Saudi Arabian market.

Saudi Arabia launched the Fintech Saudi initiative last year to improve financial inclusion and to encourage more citizens to use digital payments for transactions. Saudi Arabia also seeks to promote itself as a fintech hub with the Fintech Saudi initiative.

Saudi Arabia also appointed Deloitte as its consultant for the Fintech Saudi initiative. In February 2019, SAMA launched its regulatory sandbox environment to help local and international firms test fintech solutions that they want to launch in the Saudi Arabian market.

In addition to SAMA, Saudi Arabia’ s Capital Markets Authority is also committed to fostering fintech innovation by simplifying the regulatory framework for fintech startups.